In the 1950s, one of the largest incidents of mass poisoning on record was due to a specific orange food coloring used in the manufacturing of candy. After eating popcorn balls containing Orange Dye No. 1, many children came down with rashes and diarrhea, prompting a major investigation and an enduring urban legend. Investigators discovered that the dye, which was produced from the byproducts of processed coal, was indeed the culprit. Something the candy companies clearly knew, as the orange substance was so toxic that their factory workers kept coming down with the same skin rashes -- as seen in the documentary Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
"There was an accident at the factory, sir. I'm afraid your wife has been Oompa-Loompa'ed."
You would think we'd move beyond "accidental factory poisonings" in the 21st Century, but in 2006, public health officials on the West Coast discovered that basically the entire Mexican candy industry was allowing tons of lead to creep into their treats. So many children were being negatively affected by their lead-covered candies that it was considered the worst case of mass lead poisoning in the past three decades, which mathematically coincides with the former orange dye poisonings as well.
Worse yet, unlike those pumpkin spice lattes, mass candy poisonings are a year-round treat. In fact, there is lead in the chocolate in your pantry right now. A California-based consumer advocacy group has performed several studies which found "trace amounts" in almost all chocolate products, with half of the products tested exceeding the safe limits set by California. Now, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there is "no safe level of lead for children," as it can immediately start impacting their kidneys and brain. However, on a federal level, the FDA allows lead in food, as long as "there are no observable effects" -- which is their way of saying "Come back when people are legitimately going nuts."
Have they never met children on a sugar high?