Toxic Coinage Consumption: Melamine Scare Spooks Parents

Argh, maties! These Sherwood Brands Pirates Gold Coins shiver me timbers!

I’m quite accustomed to the annual viral parent panic of tainted candy of some kind or other each year, but this season, Truth or Fiction is even even trickier to discern whether these milk chocolate coins are ‘threat level orange’ or a plink in a bucket long shot, even among the Canadian crowd.

Either way, best to put the word out to protect little pumpkins everywhere, but for the record, the FDA has NOT issued a recall in the U.S. because it was never available in the U.S., at Costco or elsewhere. Halloween viral power is spooky though…Here’s the life cycle of media madness as it landed in my world:

The MomsRising alert about the CFIA melamine recall of China exported milk chocolate coins initially used the phrase “which may also have reached the U.S.” triggering a barrage of volatile parent panics and Little Red Hen wing-flapping Snopes confirmations e-blasting my inbox with all caps shouts of “it’s true, it’s true!”

Next, this was tempered by another equally disturbing trend, namely, the yawning apathy of America-centric myopia among media mavens who imparted the attitude,

“Settle down, it’s not in the U.S. so who cares?” (egad, have ’em walk the plank, matie!) Some of the aforementioned panicked posse even sheepishly withdrew their hysteria in ‘my bad’ mode, in an apparently naïve lack of understanding regarding borders, transparency and trade globalization, giving a laissez-faire ‘not in my backyard’ shoulder shrug. Equally disconcerting, imho.

Is it me being a ‘global citizen’ or the internet blurring borders and boundaries of countries where friends reside virtually EVERYwhere on my mind map?

Someone once told me, “Amy, you think in macro and are simply unable to see in micro.” Hmn…this must be so. Am I an odd American mom? Reason being, get this:

The Consumers Union alert and Consumer Reports blog mentioned the “big C” more prominently…Costco. Suddenly it was no longer about Canada or China anymore.

“It” was back to being an anxiety cliché fest of over worried moms…just seeing “the C word” seemed to switch on the light bulb of suburban e-list makers and school subcommittees with visions of dollar deals, deep discounts, and bulk item buys for piñatas.

Suddenly, my akismet spam file filled to overflow and deluged me with ‘forward to a friend,’ take action on toxins now, and visual depictions of the products themselves. Wow.

The scariest thing of all to me? Seeing that ‘NIMBY’ factor of concern tempered by proximal distance kick in…

It made me want to have some of those self-centered backpedaling scramblers take off their blindfolds and see that humanity is humanity and kids are kids, whether in Canada, Kansas, Costco, or China.

One world, people. Let’s look at toxins on a macro vs. micro level…Eyes wide shut is not the dynamic in play for this planet’s sustainability.

Further Links and Logic From the Cafe Mom site:

1. http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/melamine.html

2. Canadian government’s warning: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2008/20081008e.shtml

The Vancouver Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081028.wlhalloween28/BNStory/lifeFamily/home

And an article in the Chicago Tribune: http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/features_julieshealthclub/2008/10/chocolate-coins.html

3. From Consumer Reports: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/10/chinese_formula07.html, and Candy problem verified on Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/coins.asp

4. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-24-melamine-china_N.htm

5. “Consumers exposed to tiny amounts of melamine shouldn’t worry, says Angelika Tritscher of the World Health Organization. ‘Melamine at low doses is actually not considered to be very toxic.'” Quote from: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-24-melamine-china_N.htm

And here’s the Sherwood Brands response to the controversy (the site was down when I last checked)

Notice to our Customers regarding the Safety of our Candy Products Imported from China to the USA.

The safety of our products is our first priority. Customers can be assured that we have an unwavering commitment to test and assure the safety of all our products. Please note that we have not had any products containing melamine recalled in the U.S. Immediately upon the issuance of a warning by FDA about possible melamine contamination in milk-containing products from China we began to work with independent labs to confirm our products are free of melamine. Additionally, Sherwood Brands has not received any chocolate in the U.S. from China since the report on melamine. We understand that any product that may contain milk or milk proteins is being tested upon entry by the FDA. If you have questions, please email us at [email protected]

If you are concerned about the coins recalled in Canada, please note this was an isolated situation in Canada only. These coins were not sold or shipped into the US market. Those coins were produced before the melamine warning was issued. Immediately upon notification of Melamine warning, Sherwood stopped all production and shipments. All products now shipped to both Canada and the United States are first tested for the absence of melamine prior to shipment.

Thank you for your understanding. Above all our #1 concern is our customer safety and satisfaction.

And Here’s A Primer On Melamine From MomsRising.org

What is melamine? “Melamine is a synthetic chemical with a variety of industrial uses including the production of resins and foams, cleaning products, fertilizers and pesticides. It does not occur naturally in food.”–Centers for Disease Control (3)

Why is melamine dangerous in food? “Animal studies have demonstrated that exposure to low levels of melamine produced no observable toxic effects. Exposures to high levels of melamine, or exposures to lower doses of melamine together with certain other chemicals, have caused urinary tract problems in animals. These have included urinary tract and kidney crystal and stone formation, and kidney failure. Exposures of animals to high doses of melamine over long time periods (years) have been associated with cancer of the bladder.”–Centers for Disease Control (4)

Where can I find more information? You’ll find more information about the candies from Consumer Affairs, and can verify this story on Snopes.com.  Also, read the FDA notice and the USA Today article.  There is also a very useful fact sheet at the Centers for Disease Control with more information about what to do if you think you or your children have been exposed to melamine.

1. See the full list of products at the FDA’s Website http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/melamine.html
2. Canadian government’s warning:
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2008/20081008e.shtml, see also The Vancouver Globe and Mail and an article in the Chicago Tribune
3. Centers for Disease Control:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/melamine/chinafood.asp

* We are happy to report that Sherwood Brands has contacted MomsRising to assure us that the Pirate Coins recalled in Canada are an isolated situation and that the coins were not shipped into the U.S. market.

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