Tox Tuesday: Tainted Halloween candy

Halloween CandyDating back for decades there have been several scary stories in the news regarding drug-tainted Halloween candy including everything from razor blades and needles stuck into apples, to marijuana infused candies and even homemade drug mixtures disguised as sweet treats. Striking fear in parents around the world, police departments and news outlets have continuously issued warnings each year of the potential problems lurking in your child’s candy bag and urge parents to thoroughly check over their children’s candy stash before allowing them to dig in.

This year is no different, with a recent story coming out of a Jackson, Mississippi, police department warning families to be on the lookout for ecstasy in the form of candy-like tablets this Halloween. Complete with a picture of the candy disguised drugs, the story has been rebroadcasted by other news outlets via social media including one news station, which is also extending the warning to adults attending Halloween parties who could also come in contact with the drugs.

However, several recent articles have called into question the validity of these stories as there has been very little evidence of random drug poisoning from disguised Halloween candy. One article discusses last year’s scare which involved marijuana infused candy, which can be found in several states due to the passing of medical marijuana legislation. While news outlets and police departments alike issued online statements warning parents of the potential risks for the edibles to be confused with candy, no actual cases of this happening were ever reported.

Another article explains that the development of this and similar fears continually come each year without any actual evidence of occurrence. In fact, when it comes to random drug poisoning via Halloween candy, between 1958 through 1988, there were 78 cases and two deaths reported. Evidence was able to later dispel the speculations surrounding each case, but the sensationalism of the stories had already ran its course and continues to do so today.

The article states that there were two deaths that did occur but they were not random acts. Rather the unrelated murders were completed by family members of the children who used tainted Halloween candy and tried to elude police of their guilt by saying the poisoned candy came from strangers and was picked up during trick-or-treating.

Another well-known case that made headlines came in 2001 when a four-year-old died after ingesting candy she picked up on her trick-or-treating route. Police reacted by issuing an alert to area parents to dump whatever goodies their kids had collected. The cause of death was ultimately pegged as non-contagious sepsis-causing streptococcus bacteria she had contracted and the candy was discovered to play no part in her death.

The same was the case of a seven-year-old boy from California who died after eating candy and cookies he was given on Halloween. Initial urine analysis at the hospital revealed traces of cocaine but subsequent tests done by outside labs came back negative and it was further concluded that the initial test results were wrong. However, this conclusion was reached after the media had picked up on the story and hysteria ensued.

There have been plenty of other similar cases throughout the years but the article states that there is not one confirmed case of random poisoning via drug-tainted Halloween candy. Instead, some think drug busts or other drug-related news that occurs in the month surrounding Halloween has played into the sensationalism this time of year brings. Included in reports about these crimes comes speculation and warning to parents regarding the safety of their children’s Halloween candy.

As with the most recent case of ecstasy tablets impersonating candy such as Sweetarts and Smarties, many are now sounding off on social media voicing their own options on the matter and calling into question the reality of events like this actually occurring.

Some bring up the cost of drugs like ecstasy and state this alone would be enough to deter most criminals from giving it away on Halloween while referring to child poisoners disguised as friendly neighbors to the equivalent of witches, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and zombies.

However, while there is no evidence to back up this age-old rumor, poisoning is always a possibility and requires good judgement in all types of situations. The chance that a child could come home with tainted candy is always there and enough to worry most parents. That being said, when it comes to their safety a measure of care is always be called for.

For more information, click here.

For more information on how to keep your children safe on Halloween, click here.

Comments are closed.