Candy recall follows child's death due to choking hazard: Keeping young patients safe this Halloween

By Lisa Marie Basile | Fact-checked by Jessica Wrubel
Published October 12, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • 150,000 Rolling Candy products from Cocco Candy Rolling Candy and 70 million units of Candy Dynamics’s Slime Licker Sour Rolling Liquid Candy were recalled last week after reports that the candy’s components became dislodged. One child died earlier this year after choking on the Cocco Candy Rolling Candy’s malfunctioning roller ball. 

  • Pediatricians say children should always be supervised when eating candies and that candies collected on Halloween should be checked and approved before consumption.

Recently, candy manufacturers recalled kids’ treats after finding that the candy’s components could detach from the product and present a choking hazard.[] 

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled nearly 150,000 products from Cocco Candy Rolling Candy on ​​October 5 after a 7-year-old girl choked and died when the ball dislodged earlier this year. “Consumers should stop using the recalled rolling candy immediately, take it away from children and contact KGR Distribution Corp. for a refund,” CPSC said on their site.

The recall includes Cocco Candy’s Rolling Candy in various flavors, including Sour Strawberry, Sour Tutti Frutti, and Sour Cola. The candy was made in Turkey and distributed by KGR Distribution Corp. in Passaic, New Jersey. 

Additionally, 70 million units of Candy Dynamics’s Slime Licker Sour Rolling Liquid Candy were recalled the same day, with the CPSC receiving “two reports of the rolling applicator ball detaching from the container.” No injuries were reported as of yet.[] 

While a piece of candy may seem mostly harmless, candies do pose a threat to people—especially to young kids. The National Library of Medicine found that kids ages one to three are more likely to choke. In fact, choking is the fourth leading cause of death in preschool kids (And in 19% of cases, candy is the culprit.) and the leading cause of infantile death.[]

Certain children might be at greater risk of choking, according to a 2022  Frontiers in Public Health paper on preventing food choking injuries in children. “The most disadvantaged social classes have less access to higher education, social integration, and appropriate health care policies,” the authors write. “Such conditions might promote negligence and a lack of attention during parental caregiving and surveillance activities regarding younger children,” they write. As in all cases, healthcare providers should take the time to educate marginalized parents on food safety.[] 

Keeping young patients safe

With Halloween approaching, your young patient’s parents are likely wondering how to keep them safe and healthy—especially given these recent candy recalls. 

Christina Johns, MD, MEd, FAAP, a pediatric emergency doctor and senior medical advisor at PM Pediatric Care in New Haven, CT, says Halloween offers an opportunity to evaluate what kids are or are not able to do or eat: “Be mindful of letting children go trick-or-treating by themselves. This will usually depend on their age, developmental level, and the type of neighborhood you live in,” she says. “Remind kids not to eat the candy they gather as they walk around; they should be bringing all of their ‘loot’ home to be inspected for allergens and unwanted materials before consumption.”

Gina Posner, MD, board-certified pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA adds that certain candies may pose more of an issue than others. For example, she says, “Wrapped and sealed candies are generally okay,” Dr. Posner says, “but there are always exceptions.” 

For example, some candy store favorites should not be given to certain age groups. “M&Ms and Skittles—candies that have to be really well-chewed—are simply not good for little ones,” she says. Moreover, kids should not be allowed to eat homemade treats (especially provided by strangers on Halloween), any small and hard suckable candies, or candies with nuts, she adds. 

“As for candies with caps and capsules, you need to be there to remove anything before you even hand it to a child,” Dr. Posner says. “Softer candies are okay, but you still want to watch kids eat them because kids can choke on random things we don't expect. Little kids should be well-supervised,” Dr. Posner notes. 

“If a toddler wants to eat a larger candy bar, cut it up into smaller pieces to prevent choking,” Dr. Johns adds. 

Dr. Posner also suggests reminding patients’ parents that Halloween snacking can cause other issues—like gastrointestinal distress. “We see a lot of kids that vomit because they’ve stuffed themselves with way too much…,” she says. “Parents should give kids a couple [of] pieces and then let them enjoy maybe a few small pieces per day.”

While conversations around choking and Halloween candy safety can certainly cause a bit of anxiety for parents, Dr. Johns says that healthcare providers should keep the conversation helpful and encouraging. “Don’t fearmonger about the dangers of Halloween. Rather, these precautions should be discussed as normal measures similar to hand washing and proper hygiene,” she says, encouraging parents to use Halloween as a chance to talk to kids about the importance of knowing what they’re consuming and how certain foods may pose choking risks.

And as a reminder, Dr. Johns says, “Know and review first aid/CPR procedures in case an emergency does occur.”

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