Where Can A Californian Buy Dragees?

Decorating By gomen Updated 8 Feb 2016 , 2:00am by maybenot

gomen Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 4:00pm
post #1 of 8

So I just learned that because of a 2003 lawsuit many online sellers won't sell to you if you have a Californian address. I really want to use dragees because they really add a cute and/or elegant touch to cakes and cookies. I've tried wiltons sugar pearls but it melted onto my cookies while baking and because the cookies were chocolate it was really obvious (think a puddle of white with a small ball against brown). Lots of 'alternatives' lack the metallic look, are too big or small, melt, and/or their color seeps onto the food. It's really annoying cause dragees are just sugar balls, and the amount of silver if you just use it in everyday baking won't harm you. 

So yeah, anyone know of a company that ships to us living in CA or a local shop that would carry it?

Or like if I could bring them back in my luggage from another country? 

7 replies
-K8memphis Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 4:40pm
post #2 of 8

you could apply the alternatives after you bake of course -- 

if you are selling you don't want to use these -- anyone can snap you for them -- nobody wants you to generate a  lawsuit 

i mean sure they are available across state lines from you and they sell them here in my state, i guess they are sold everywhere else but cali -- so sorry --

i mean if you are determined to use them you will find a way -- but that lawyer might get you and whoever helps you --

here's a good story on it -- they are apparently not actually illegal but if planted they grow the seedlings lawsuits are made of -- 


Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 8:18pm
post #3 of 8

I'm in northern California and I've seen them in specialty cake decorating stores like Spun Sugar in Berkeley, but they are labelled not edible for decorative purposes only.  My friend gave me a bottle but I won't use them on a cake or cookies. They are hard as a rock if you try to chew them and they're made of non food materials.

maybenot Posted 6 Feb 2016 , 10:59pm
post #4 of 8

The issue with dragees is that they are not "just sugar balls" with edible silver on them.  They are sugar balls with a non-edible metallic coating of a variety of origins.  It is that metallic coating that is an unapproved food additive and that's why they're described as "non-toxic, for decoration only". 

As with ANY non-toxic, for decoration only product, the expectation of the FDA [and other food safety offices] is that the decorative item can AND WILL BE removed before the food is eaten.  The decoration cannot be baked into the item, and every item should come with the instruction to remove the decoration before consuming the food.  Unfortunately, we know that's not the case in most instances.

I won't use dragees because of this issue.  I am ultimately responsible for the food produced.  It's my liability insurance policy that helps to protect me from errors that I make may, but it won't protect me if I make a food with an unapproved food additive on it and a person eating my food has a problem.  This issue extends to ALL unapproved food additives including non-toxic, inedible dusts like disco dust and non FDA certified luster/petal dusts.

I make my own semi-soft sugar pearls and then coat them with edible metallic airbrush color that has extra FDA certified metallic luster dust added to it.  The pearls are lovely and easily eaten--and I have no concerns at all about who consumes them.


gomen Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 1:48am
post #5 of 8

-K8memphis and Pastrybaglady thanks for the insight/help.

I'm suburban socal so no deco stores near me, only micheals and grocery stores. Also, I bake for fun and I'd tell the people I share it with the issues concerning dragees, and let them make their own decision.

maybenot, the only country that labels it as inedible is the us, other countries recognize metallic-finish dragees as food items. Hell, the taiwanese and japanese use dragees liberally in their baked goods, and I'm sure the other countries use them too. The trace amounts aren't dangerous and someone who eats enough for it to be a danger could probably make anything a danger to themselves. I kinda get that the hardness of it could potentially be an issue for people with brittle teeth or babies, but I wouldn't advise giving food thats decorated with sugary topping to babies in the first place. 

As a college student and hobby baker, I have neither the desire nor money to get an airbrushing set. Thanks I guess.

-K8memphis Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 11:33am
post #6 of 8

our role as a responsible purveyor of safe food is infinitely more important than how our food looks -- i understand the fascination with dragees and non-toxic products sold in cake stores -- i've already used them several times in my four decades of cake work because i've worked for places where clients ordered them, were fully advised of the risks and chose to move forward with it anyhow -- we all get a little crazy as brides & party givers huh --

i just want to encourage you to keep weighing all the facts on these non-toxic products, there are non-toxic (aka not edible) luster and disco dusts (aka plastic) as well -- not only the hardness of the dragees but the composition of the mystery metal coating  -- and more importantly i think it's most commendable that you will fully advise peeps about the risks involved in consuming your product -- 

best to you --

Apti Posted 7 Feb 2016 , 11:40pm
post #7 of 8

K8memphis:  WELL SAID! 

our role as a responsible purveyor of safe food is infinitely more important than how our food looks

maybenot Posted 8 Feb 2016 , 2:00am
post #8 of 8

Firstly, I never suggested buying, or using, an airbrush.   I merely commented on the option to use edible liquid airbrush color.  The cost would be on par with any good quality gel/paste food coloring.

K8 says it succinctly: safe food is more important than looks.

As for the other countries, I have no idea how dragees are treated there, but I do KNOW how they're classified in THIS COUNTRY, and that is all that matters.  How other countries handle them has no impact on me and is not a useful defense should I choose to use them and there be a problem.

I recently messaged a decorator about her use of disco dust directly on food.  She told me that she wasn't using disco dust [even though she called it disco dust in her photo caption and it looked like disco dust], but an edible glitter made of gum arabic.  I explained to her that EVERY food producer--no matter how small or large--needs to fully understand ALL of the products that they use and that if she wasn't using disco dust, she should proudly declare that she uses only completely edible glitter and never plastic disco dust.

As for the "damage" done..........well, I don't think it's up to a baker to decide whether something is [potentially] damaging, or not.  Food safety agencies have done that for me when they've looked, in depth, at a product and decided that it's not appropriate for ingestion.

Being new, young, hobbyist, or whatever doesn't allow for the use of a product that is not an approved food additive.

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