Police are once again asking parents and guardians to pay close attention to kids’ Halloween loot as incidents involving "suspicious candy-like substances" emerge close to the trick-or-treating holiday.
Last week, the Auburn Georgia Police Department shared an image on Facebook after officers found a bag of ecstasy "along with numerous other drugs" that were seized from a traffic-related incident.
"As you can see the ecstasy looks like candy, little frog heads in all different colors," the post read. "Please make sure to speak with your children and educate them about suspicious candy-like substances. Thank you for being vigilant with your child’s safety."
It’s unknown how the person was planning on distributing the suspected drugs, police told Fox News.
Although actual incidents of drugs being passed to children on Halloween may be rare, police said they still push for candy checks due to the drugs bearing close resemblance to a harmless treat.
"Can it get mixed in with the candy? It’s happened…" Sgt. Marc Pharr of Auburn Police told Fox News, adding that he’s never seen an injury or fatal incident reported in Auburn.
In 2018, two Oregon parents were hospitalized after unknowingly eating Halloween candy laced with methamphetamine, authorities said in a press release.
The candy was said to be collected while trick-or-treating and the children did not consume any candy from the wrapper in question, the Washington County Sherriff’s office said.
Pharr told Fox News that these warnings don’t intend to cause parents’ "candy anxiety," but rather bring awareness of how easily drugs can be processed and disguised to look like candy – a tactic that's typically used to fool law enforcement, Pharr explained.
"If someone did want to be silly and have that thrown in a bag, they certainly could. "It’s very frightening…they may do the THC and not the ecstasy. Some people may do it as a joke. But for a young child, THC can hurt them pretty badly."
In a 2020 Facebook post, the Indiana State Police shared photos of seized holiday edibles featuring packaging that resembles that of actual name brands – but with the word "medicated" printed on the wrapper along with cannabis symbols.
"The post was made as a reminder for parents to take an extra moment to carefully check their children’s Halloween candy because sometimes things aren’t always as they seem," Capt. Ron Galaviz, chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police, told Fox News at the time.
Pharr advised parents to consider basic safety precautions this season.
"Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, but sometimes the most hectic for parents and guardians," he said, offering the following tips.
- Please make sure to watch for any potential choking hazards with candy
- Show all of your candy to a parent or guardian so it can be inspected for tampering
- Instruct children not to eat anything that is not commercially wrapped
- Throw out candy or treats that are homemade, unwrapped, or have a torn wrapper.
"If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local police or Sherriff’s department," Pharr said.
In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says to follow these steps to ensure treats are safe for kids:
- Children shouldn’t snack on treats from their goody bags while they’re out trick-or-treating. Give them a light meal or snack before they head out and urge them to wait until they get home so you can sift through the candy.
- Tell children not to accept or eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away what looks suspicious.
- If your child has a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present.
- If you have young children, remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
Fox News' Cortney Moore contributed to this report.