Rainbow fentanyl unlikely to be found in Halloween candy

Experts say legitimate reports of children being harmed by Halloween candy tainted with drugs like rainbow fentanyl are best understood as urban legend.

In the weeks leading up to the spookiest day of the year, local news reporters and the police department often warn parents about the possibility of someone tampering with their child’s Halloween candy. This leaves many parents worried about what might happen in their child’s donkey or treat bag.

In late August, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warned of an “emerging trend of colorful fentanyl” that it said was being used by drug cartels to target children and young people in the United States. As of October 12, the DEA said the drug, known as “rainbow fentanyl,” which can resemble candy, has been seized in 26 states.

Since the DEA’s announcement, several Senate Republicans have issued public service notices warning parents of the dangers of a “fentanyl rainbow” ahead of Halloween. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also stated on Fox News that “every mother in the country is now worried” that rainbow fentanyl could end up in their kids’ Halloween baskets.

VERIFIED Viewer Angela asked our team on Facebook if there is any truth to these claims.


Are legitimate reports of contaminated Halloween candy common?


  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Joel Best, PhD, professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware
  • Nabarun Dasgupta, MPH, PhD, Senior Scientist, Creative Fellow of the Center for Injury Prevention Research at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Ryan Marino, MD, medical toxicologist, emergency physician, and addiction medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
  • Lieutenant Ryan Bessette, public information officer at Waterbury Police Department
  • Wayne Bird, Sheriff of the Williamsburg Police Department
  • Frederick Harran, director of public safety at the Bensalem . Police Department
  • Chris Gaddis, assistant sheriff at the Burlington Police Department
  • Jon Reed, sheriff at the Winchester Police Department
  • Gloucester Town Police Department


This is wrong.

No, legitimate reports of contaminated Halloween candy are uncommon.

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Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, says the theory of feeding children contaminated food during trickery or treatment was first called “ruthism”. violent Halloween” in the 1970s.

Best told VERIFY: “Halloween masochism is the idea that there are lunatics who try to harm children by offering tainted items — razor blades in apples, pins in candy bars, substance poison in junk food, etc”.

In 1985, he co-authored an article that reviewed press coverage of Halloween sadism from 1958 to 1984 in four US newspapers: The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Fresno Bee. He then published a book with an updated version of the paper in 1990.

Best said he hasn’t found a single case of a child being injured or dying from contaminated candy after being tricked or treated on Halloween since he first started compiling his data.

“I have researched this for a long time and I cannot find any evidence that any child has ever been killed or seriously injured by a contaminated dish selected in trick or treatment process. I think this is best understood as a contemporary legend,” says Best.

Contemporary legends, also known as urban legends or urban legends, are stories that are told as true, although there may be little or no evidence that the events in the stories are true. It’s happened, and it’s often the way people express anxiety, according to Best.

More words VERIFY: Yes, ‘rainbow’ fentanyl is circulating in the US

He says concerns about Halloween sadism tend to be especially acute in years when some sort of gruesome crime has recently increased public fear. Best known as the “fentanyl rainbow,” the latest Halloween scare in an article published on The Conversation on October 12.

“What may seem refreshing to describe a fentanyl rainbow as a Halloween hazard is the willingness of key political figures and the media to spread the word. Most previous statements about Halloween sadism lacked such prominent spokespeople,” Best wrote.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram addressed the claims in two recent interviews with NBC and Fox News, saying she doesn’t believe children are at risk of being exposed to a “rainbow of fentanyl” this Halloween. .

“At this point… we see nothing to suggest this will be related to Halloween or that drug dealers are putting it in Halloween candy. If we ever had that information, I would bring it out immediately because I want people to know what we know,” Millgram said.

Instead, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says researchers in recent years have seen a “significant increase” in the number of drug overdose deaths among adolescents. 14-18 year olds “probably because of illegal counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl.”

“It is extremely important to inform young people, parents, schools and the community that prescription drugs purchased on social media, given to someone by a friend, or obtained from an unknown source are extremely dangerous and can contain lethal fentanyl,” NIDA told VERIFY.

Nabarun Dasgupta, a researcher studying illicit drugs at the University of North Carolina, and Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and addiction medicine specialist at the University’s Cleveland Medical Center, both say. With VERIFY parents shouldn’t worry about a “fentanyl rainbow” or other drugs appearing in their child’s Halloween basket.

“There is no evidence that the drug is made to target children, and the idea is that anyone would give free medicine to scammers or treat them,” Marino said.

“The more immediate threat to children during trickery or treatment is being hit by a car in the dark. So parents should spend more time making sure their outfits have headlight reflective elements, not worrying about the fentanyl in the candy,” says Dasgupta.

More words VERIFY: No, short-term exposure to fentanyl can’t cause an overdose, health experts say

The VERIFICATION team has also contacted several police departments across the country, which have previously received reports of potentially contaminated Halloween candy over the past decade.

In September 2021, the Bensalem Police Department in Pennsylvania seized 50 cannabis-infused items that mimicked popular snack brands. Frederick Harran, director of public safety for the Bensalem Police Department, told VERIFY that the incident was unrelated to Halloween. He also said the police department had not received any reports of contaminated candy being given to children in the past.

On November 1, 2019, a 37-year-old man from Waterbury, Conn., was arrested after parents found razor blades in the bottom of their child’s trick or treat bag. The children were not injured or injured, but police say Jason Racz is charged with risk of injury to a young child, recklessness and interference with a police officer.

“We are not aware of any incidents before or since that incident,” Lieutenant Ryan Bessette, a public information officer at the Waterbury Police Department, told VERIFY. “Historically, we’ve never had a problem with any tainted Halloween candy.”

Meanwhile, in another November 2019 incident, the Burlington Police Department in Burlington, NC shared on its Facebook page that it was aware of a social media post stating that a family member The family believes a child has been exposed to contaminated candy they purchased. Halloween.

“We learned when a relative started using social media platforms to post unconfirmed theories about the cause of the child’s temporary illness. We made the post to help slow down the inaccurate information being shared and help bring clarity to the situation to our community,” Assistant Sheriff Chris Gaddis told VERIFY.

“We have reached out to the family and the local medical team to investigate. We have never confirmed that there was a crime or exposure to contaminated Halloween candy. The family wishes not to pursue any further assistance,” said Gaddis.

Gaddis said the department had not received any reports of similar incidents in October or November 2019 and said it had not received any since.

More words VERIFY: Coca-Cola used to contain coca leaf extract, but not cocaine like the drug we know today

In Whitley County, Ky., a local news station reported in November 2019 that police were warning parents about contaminated Halloween candy after CBD gum was allegedly passed on to children. children are deceived. Sheriff Wayne Bird confirmed to VERIFY that the incident has been isolated and no arrests have been made. He said the department has not had any further reports of similar incidents in the area.

In November 2015, police in Winchester, Indiana, shared on their Facebook page that they had received reports of someone putting razor blades in candy bars on Halloween. Winchester Police Chief Jon Reed told VERIFY that the report was determined to be a hoax. He said the department has not received any similar reports since.

The Gloucester Township Police Department responded to a home in Blackwood, NJ, after a man reported he had found four sewing needles in four separate pieces of candy from a Halloween trick or cure. in November 2015. After investigation, police said. It was discovered that the man had made up the story and had put needles in the candy bars himself. He was arrested and charged with making false statements to the police.

If you’re concerned about the kind of candy your kids get on Halloween, Dasgupta recommends making sure kids avoid eating unwrapped candy they might receive when tricked. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which shares a list of Halloween food safety tips on its website, also says to “tell children not to accept – and especially not eat – anything that is not wrapped for commercial purposes”.

“Check packaged treats on the market for signs of tampering, such as unusual appearance or discoloration, pinholes, or tears in the wrapping paper. Throw away anything that appears suspicious,” the FDA wrote.

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https://www.king5.com/article/news/verify/holiday-verify/contaminated-halloween-candy-rainbow-fentanyl-warnings-claims-fact-check/536-53f1d850-afc4-4d61-a166-9021a5000cff Rainbow fentanyl unlikely to be found in Halloween candy

Edmund DeMarche

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