Routine screening of Halloween candy: helpful or hazardous?

Ann Emerg Med. 1993 Oct;22(10):1541-4. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)81255-7.


Study objectives: To determine the frequency of radiopaque items found in radiologic screening of Halloween candy and to determine the possibility of missing a small item.

Design: Prospective observational study on Halloween night, 1992. Data were collected from area medical centers that were screening Halloween candy. The ability to detect small sharp items was tested at five centers.

Setting: Five hospitals and three immediate care centers.

Participants: Four hundred fifty-four bags of candy were screened.

Results: No unknown radiopaque items were discovered. One of five centers tested for accuracy failed to detect a small radiopaque item. Only one hospital required parents to sign a waiver of liability. The immediate care centers recorded patients' names; the other hospitals kept no record of the names of children whose bags were screened. No physicians viewed the radiographs or fluoroscopy.

Conclusion: The routine radiologic screening of Halloween candy has an extremely low yield in detecting radiopaque items.

MeSH terms

  • Candy*
  • Child
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Food Contamination*
  • Holidays
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal
  • Radiography* / economics