A Rare Legitimate Halloween Candy Scare

Amid the yearly ginned-up panics over the alleged danger of Halloween candy, officials in Canada sounded the alarm in October 2008 over concerns around a popular treat that were, for once, legitimate.

That year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released a statement alerting consumers saying:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume, distribute, or sell the Sherwood Brands Pirate’s Gold Milk Chocolate Coins described below. This product is being recalled due to positive test results for melamine conducted by the CFIA.


Although the health risk associated with these products is considered to be low, the advisory is being issued as a result of the Government of Canada’s ongoing investigation into milk and milk-derived products sourced in/from China that may have been distributed in Canada.

However, Sherwood products distributed within American outlets were not found to have contained melamine, meaning that no recall was issued for the United States.

That same year, the spread of melamine — a checmical which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said is sometimes used to make cooking utensils — in milk powder caused a scandal in China which affected a reported 300,000 infants around the country, killing six of them. As The Guardian reported that December:

The crisis caused public outrage because it is thought the chemical was added deliberately to allow substandard milk to pass nutrition tests and because of the cover-up.

Sanlu, the firm at the heart of the problems, knew the milk was tainted months before it told local officials. It did not contact Hebei’s provincial government for another month – leaving babies to drink unsafe milk until mid-September.

Notably, the real-life issue with Sherwood Brands’ chocolate was due to a production error, and not the result of moral panics about candies being laced with drugs.

Update 10/5/2023, 1:29 a.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag