Sunday, October 19, 2008

What's In Your Halloween Candy?

Frost on the pumpkins and grass - finally, it's very late in the season. (?)

Recent headlines about melamine (an industrial plastic resin) being added to infant formulas are of great concern. Over 53,000 children in China have been sickened and some deaths have occurred. Melamine is used in the plastics industry to make bowls and plates, glues, counter tops, and fertilizers. In an effort to increase their output, it is believed that suppliers in China actually diluted their milk, then added melamine - a completely non-food item - because of its high nitrogen content. The added melamine can trick lab tests which indicate a higher protein content because protein, like melamine, is also high in nitrogen. And it's cheap to make.


Several dairy organizations in China are responsible for adding melamine to their dried milk to make the milk appear to have a higher protein content. Apparently this has been known for some time but has been slow to be publicized. In the mean time, tainted milk by-products have circulated world wide where we now find it in...candy. How low can you go?

This is not the first time melamine has entered our food chain. Back in 2007 melamine was found in feed stock used for cattle and fish consumed by humans. It was also determined to be the cause of thousands of pet deaths in the U.S. from pet food contamination.

Back to candy... Contaminated candy was found in four stores in Connecticut. Melamine was also found in Cadbury candies, Snickers, M&Ms, milk chocolate made by Mars, as well as Kit Kat wafers made by Nestle and a biscuit by Lotte Confectionery Co. manufactured in South Korea. This is not an effort to scare as much as point out how far tentacles can reach and to also question: just what does go into our candy anyway?

So what's an eco-conscious Halloween participant to do? My advice is to stay local. Head to your favorite locally made, candy shop and take advantage of the peace of mind that comes with buying local. Be sure to ask where their ingredients come from. My guess is that they will have an answer and will be confident about what they sell.

Purchasing certified organic candy , such as Yummy Earth,is another way is be sure your candy is safe. Either way, you can be sure that your little (and big) Halloween visitors will be safe from melamine.

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