Just Because: Keeping Candy Safe this Halloween

By Elizabeth Birkner

Halloween is right around the corner, and it is important to be aware of the deadly fentanyl outbreak in the United States. Fentanyl is so deadly that a lethal amount can fit on the tip of a pencil. A rising problem is that it is being pressed into brightly colored tablets into what is being referred to as “rainbow fentanyl”. This is a growing concern among law enforcement and parents as trick or treating is occurring this weekend and Monday. In fact, earlier this month, 48 pounds of fentanyl along with 15,000 fentanyl pills were seized in Polk County (two hours south of Gainesville).

Like most years, but this one especially, parents need to be careful and quick to identify possible distributed fentanyl in Halloween candy. If a piece of candy does not look normal, or is not in a labeled and sealed package, it would be best to be safe and throw it out. Andrew Hinson, one of Oak Hall’s Security Officers is advising parents to check their child’s candy to make sure the candy tablets don’t have imprinted numbers or letters. “Fentanyl is commonly made to look like other pills such as Xanax, Oxycodone, or Adderall. It can also look like gummy bears or jolly rancher candy,” he said. The resemblance between regular safe candy, and those that contain fentanyl is almost identical, so it is incredibly important to be especially careful with Halloween candy this year.

Rainbow fentanyl, known as “Smarties” or “SweetTarts”, are shaped like candy

Another concern is children receiving homemade treats from trick or treating. There is no way to know if a homemade treat was tampered with, so it is important to dispose of any homemade treats to be safe. “Fentanyl can easily be added to baked goods. Therefore, I would highly recommend to only except homemade treats from people that are personally known to you and your family,” Hinson added. With the current concerns of fentanyl, it would be wise to avoid homemade treats given out on Halloween to ensure trick or treaters’ safety. 

Since fentanyl candy is made to look like ordinary candy, it is crucial to be careful and cautious when examining Halloween candy for possible risks. When asked about what parents should look out for, Hinson advised avoiding “Any candy that is not in a commercially labeled package. Any package that is open or torn. And any candy that has pin holes in it. These should all be discarded. Remember: if in doubt, throw it out!” When in a situation where you are faced with a piece of candy that does not look normal, the smart choice would be to throw it away.

Finally, in the terrible situation where someone is exposed to fentanyl, it is very important to act quickly. “Immediately clear the area and call 911. Fentanyl has the consistency of baking flour and can become airborne when moved or agitated, which can cause cross contamination,” Hinson warned. Some signs of fentanyl ingestion to look out for include slow breathing, no breathing, gurgling sounds, blue lips and nails, tiny pupils, damp, and cold skin, and not moving or waking up.