The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) once again cautioned people to keep their edibles out of reach from children, especially the ones with sketchy, colorful packaging that might appeal to children.
On May 13, the FDA issued a warning, sounding the alarm about lookalike products that mimic candy and more recently—children’s cereal.
Copycat products that were highlighted in the warning mimic Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Froot Loops, Fruity Pebbles, Nerds Ropes, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids, and Trix, among others.
There are two reasons not to support gray area cannabis products like these: the potential appeal to children being one, and the other being the ethical violation of blatantly ripping off the intellectual property of mainstream food companies. But the FDA was mainly concerned about the physical symptoms that could occur in children.
“The FDA is aware of multiple media reports describing children and adults who accidentally consumed copycat edible products containing THC and experienced adverse events,” the organization wrote. “Additionally, from January 2021 through April 24, 2022, the FDA received over 100 adverse event reports related to children and adults who consumed edible products containing THC.”
Symptoms to look out for include “hallucinations” and “vomiting.”
“Some individuals who ate these edible products reportedly experienced adverse events such as hallucinations, increased heart rate and vomiting, and many required medical intervention or hospital admission,” the warning continues. “Seven of the reports specifically mention the edible product to be a copycat of popular foods, such as Cocoa Pebbles, Nerds Rope, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, and Starburst.”
Separating Dangers from Myth
Both CBD and THC show promise in pediatrics for mental and physical conditions in controlled doses, such as intractable epilepsy, but children’s small bodies usually can’t withstand THC like an adult. If a small child (or pet) consumes them by accident, it can quickly become “a situation.” All adults carry the responsibility of keeping their edibles out of reach, and most do.
But sometimes, hysteria makes these warnings seem less credible. For children and adults, a “whiteout” can be a scary experience, but “overdoses solely by marijuana are unlikely,” even the CDC admits. At the crack of October 1, we receive our annual warning about supposed cannabis-infused candy being passed out to children on Halloween, but sometimes said stories are debunked.
The FDA gave three recommendations in the event that a child consumes an edible:
- Call 9-1-1 or get emergency medical help right away if you or someone in your care has serious side effects from these products. Always keep these products in a safe place out of reach of children.
- Call the local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) if a child has consumed these products. Do not wait for symptoms to call.
- Contact your healthcare provider if you or someone in your care recently ingested these products and you have health concerns.
The FDA also gave three ways to file a complaint in a dark warning to people with nosy neighbors, living in fear of people dropping the dime and calling Child Protective Services. It’s unclear if the complaint avenues are intended for parents themselves or others.
“Health care professionals, patients and consumers are encouraged to report complaints and cases of exposure and adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program,” the warning reads.
- Call an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator if you wish to speak directly to a person about your problem.
- Complete an electronic Voluntary MedWatch form online.
- Complete a paper Voluntary MedWatch form that can be mailed to the FDA.
Last year, over 100 people dialed in.
Copycat Edibles Are a Problem, Not Only for Children
As it turns out, mainstream food companies essentially want the same thing, but mostly for a different reason. On April 27, a group of a dozen major food companies called on Congress to crack down on the growing number of THC-infused copycat knockoffs.
“Children are increasingly threatened by the unscrupulous use of famous brand logos, characters, trademarks, and trade dress on THC-laced edible products. While cannabis (and incidental amounts of THC) may be legal in some states, the use of these famous marks, clearly without approval of the brand owners, on food products has created serious health and safety risks for consumers, particularly children, who cannot tell the difference between these brands’ true products and copycat THC products that leverage the brand’s fame for profit,” the companies wrote in the letter.
Parents with small children and teens are advised to double check that their edibles are out of reach from children.