Common, if largely overwrought, wisdom holds that parents should rifle through their kids' Halloween haul before the little darlings consume even the first bite -- tossing out fruit, homemade treats, candy that isn't individually packaged, items with damaged wrapping, anything that might possibly suggest danger within ... Now apparently, they're supposed to check the type of candy, too.
Among the alarmist Halloween e-mails making the rounds is one that states: "Don't eat the chocolate coin candies! The little chocolate coins are not safe for kids to eat this Halloween. They are made in China and contain the Melamine that childrens deaths were related to recently. !!!!!!!"
The e-mail specifically names a product called Sherwood's milk chocolate Pirate's Gold Coins, made in China.
Myself, I'm always loathe to trust e-mails with multiple exclamation points and errant capitalization (I've given up on expecting appropriate apostrophe use), but the list of products contaminated with melamine does seem to be growing. And this health gig suggests to some people that I'm interested in such things, so ...
Here's the deal:
It's true -- you shouldn't eat the Pirate's Gold coins. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said so.
The FDA has not issued a similar warning. It's outrageous when you think about it -- unless of course, you do think about it and realize that the product was distributed in Canada, not the United States. It's possible that a few of those coins were brought into the U.S. by Americans shopping at Costco stores to our north (when will those Canadians do something about their border?), but there hardly seems reason to panic. Not when there are potentially hazard-filled baked goods and apples to toss.
The list of possibly-melamine-contaminated candy that Americans should toss includes:
White Rabbit candy.
That's it. The FDA has warned against eating those and Koala's March Creme filled cookies -- the only two items that might conceivably become a Halloween treat. Melamine might also be found in YILI Brand Sour Milk Drink. But if you find that stuff in the Halloween haul, you should probably be more alarmed at how out of touch your neighbors are -- not the potential risk to the typical American kid.
For a full list of products available to American consumers that might be contaminated with melamine, check the FDA website. (The page also contains a link to questions and answers about melamine.)
If you're going to sort through your kids' candy, use the melamine excuse if you want. But stay focused on the true goal -- claiming dibs on the Butterfinger bars and Reese's cups.
-- Tami Dennis
Photo: The FDA has advised against eating White Rabbit candy.
Credit: Bernd Weissbrod / EPA