Should we X-ray Halloween candy? Revisited

Vet Hum Toxicol. 1988 Apr;30(2):165-9.


The well-intentioned program of X-raying Halloween candy is costly. The annual expense to the 3 local hospitals in the Reno/Sparks area was $1625.62. The price to X-ray each bag ranged from $2.01 to $5.23 (average $3.38). On the basis of our total regional population statistics, the nation could be spending as much as $0.8-$1.4 million to screen Halloween candy. Radiographic screening of Halloween candy is not effective. Of the 394 X-rays taken in the 3 local hospitals, and the 669 taken in 18 outlying hospitals, no films were positive for hidden radio-opaque forein bodies. Not only is X-raying Halloween candy costly and ineffective, it also creates several problems. Children taking their candy to the hospital on Halloween night risk involvement in traffic accidents. The implication that X-rayed candy is "safe" carries potential liability. Additional drawbacks and risks arise from crowds composed mostly of children in the Radiology Dept and Emergency Room, and from disruption of vital hospital functions. In October, 1986, a program for community education and cooperation among all 3 area hospitals was developed. No X-rays were offered in the Reno/Sparks area. There were no police reports of contaminated candy for this Halloween following implementation of this program, compared to 4 reports for the preceding 2 years.

MeSH terms

  • Candy / poisoning*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Nevada
  • Poisoning / prevention & control*
  • X-Rays