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Halloween Guide and Ideas
 
Halloween Guide and Ideas

HALLOWEEN CANDY SAFETY


There are so many aspects of Halloween that provide enjoyment for children on October 31st. All the wonderful Halloween costumes that they can dress-up in, houses adorned with creepy and kooky Halloween decorations, going to or having a Halloween party and of course all that tasty candy! Think about it, on this one very special night when people willingly give out candy to just about anyone that shows up at their door. But is there darker side to receiving these free treats from strangers?

Poisoned Candy - Razor Blades in Apples - Drug Tainted Treats?
While most have been hoaxes, there have been a few real cases of candy tampering over the years. These rare exceptions have become such an urban legend ingrained in our society, that many people believe that this horrible act is actually common place, even today.

The few that have been true, have often been a deliberate act of murder or attempted murder of a child by a family member, such as the 1974 murder of Timothy O'Bryan, an eight year old boy from Deer Park Texas, who died after eating poisoned candy purposely given to him by his father, who wanted to collect on a life insurance policy he had taken out on his own child.

The first case of purposely tainted candy given out by a stranger on Halloween may have been that of Helen Pfeil in 1964. Apparently, this New York resident was so irritated at the idea of handing out free candy to older kids that she gave out packages that contained steel wool pads, dog biscuits and poison ant buttons. While she made it clear that the treats she was handing out were inedible, she was charged with child endangerment.

Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware has conducted extensive research concerning the belief that poisoned Halloween candy poses a serious threat to children. In his article, "Halloween Sadism: The Evidence", he states that he has been unable to find a substantiated report of a child being killed or seriously injured by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating.

There have also been a few cases of candy contaminated with such things as metal shavings, presumably introduced accidentally during the manufacturing process, although this type of industrial accident is probably no more likely with candy than it is with any other food product.

So what does all this tell us?
With the huge amount of children going trick-or-treating each year, it is extremely unlikely that a child would be given candy that has been deliberately tampered with or that has been accidentally contaminated, but it is possible. So, some precautions are wise.

Instruct your children not to eat any treats they collect until they bring them home to be examined by you. This may be easier said than done. We suggest giving your child a small starter pack of his or her favorite candy that can be snacked on while out trick-or-treating, reducing the temptation of eating treats before they have been inspected by you.

Any candy that is unwrapped, has a torn, incomplete or suspicious wrapper, has holes in it or is not in its original packaging should be thrown away. If any candy looks the slight bit suspect, throw it away, its better to be safe than sorry.

Homemade treats should not be consumed unless you actually know and trust the person who made it. Every year we buy a large amount of candy to pass out to the droves of costumed kids. We also make a lot of homemade treats for the children of friends and family who know us.

If your child has any food allergies, such as to nuts, be extra vigilant when checking for candy that may contain them. It is estimated that up to one half of one percent of people may have some degree of an allergy to nuts of some type.

Many hospitals offer free candy x-raying to look for metal objects. If you want to have the candy x-rayed, call your local hospital first and ask if they offer this service. Just remember that x-rays will not detect chemical contaminants such as poison.

 

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