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Anna N

Who thought apricot kernels made a great snack?

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Here.

 

A man buys a snack and ends up in hospital with cyanide poisoning.  What were they thinking when they sold these as snack food. 


Edited by Anna N Spelling. (log)
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"Health food" stores really need regulation. So many instances of adulterated supplements have happened...and now this. 

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This sounds like a potential Darwin Award honorable mention, although I'm unsure whether it should go to the eater, the store that sold them, or the company that marketed them.

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They're widely used in pastry as a substitute for almond paste, but they're roasted to break down the cyanide. You've probably eaten them in marzipan form, or something of that nature. 

 

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To be fair, the article does say there was a warning on the bag to not eat more than 2 - 3 per day. At some point, personal responsibility has to come into it. And I don't think things like "who reads labels?" negate that personal responsibility. There are many things that carry risk that I wouldn't want to be told I can't have or do just because someone else failed to follow instructions and had something bad happen as a result. 

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I think that "Who reads labels?" definitely applies when the bag contains a lethal dose of cyanide.

 

Everything has a warning label anymore and most are just to appease lawyers or regulators.  Nobody pays attention to them.

 

 


Edited by gfweb (log)
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But the part of this story no ones paying attention to is that if you listened to the audio, he never got sick.

He went to the hospital because of that label, but nothing really happened to him.

 

So basically its a non story

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7 hours ago, gfweb said:

I think that "Who reads labels?" definitely applies when the bag contains a lethal dose of cyanide.

 

Everything has a warning label anymore and most are just to appease lawyers or regulators.  Nobody pays attention to them.

 

 

 


I disagree entirely. All companies can do is provide instructions and warnings, they can't force people to read or heed them. "Nobody pays attention to them" does not shift the burden of personal responsibility away from the person. I realize personal responsibility is being litigated out of today's society with a vengeance but I'll never be convinced it's the right way to go.

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23 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:


I disagree entirely. All companies can do is provide instructions and warnings, they can't force people to read or heed them. "Nobody pays attention to them" does not shift the burden of personal responsibility away from the person. I realize personal responsibility is being litigated out of today's society with a vengeance but I'll never be convinced it's the right way to go.

 

In general I agree with you.

But what if a 4 year old who can't read eats a bagful? Or somebody who can't read english?

Astonishing it is available at all.

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24 minutes ago, gfweb said:

 

In general I agree with you.

But what if a 4 year old who can't read eats a bagful? Or somebody who can't read english?

Astonishing it is available at all.


A 4 year old is the personal responsibility of the parent. Protecting them from potentially dangerous things is part of their job. If the parent reads the warning and still leaves the bag where the kid can get it, while that would be sad if there was a bad result, that still falls under personal responsibility. The personal responsibility of the parent. I'm not sure how to address the "can't read English" thing. You can't put everything in every language on everything so I feel warnings and instructions in the predominant language of the area something is being sold is about all you can reasonably be expected to do. The product is available because there is a responsible way to make use of it... but they can't force people to use it responsibly. 

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I think the original mention was on the Dinner thread. I had Googled it because the poster used them in a dish and sounded like "Hey, no worries..." and I kept seeing online articles about the cyanide (with peach pits, as well). 

7 hours ago, GlorifiedRice said:

But the part of this story no ones paying attention to is that if you listened to the audio, he never got sick.

He went to the hospital because of that label, but nothing really happened to him.

 

So basically its a non story

Except we won't know. Perhaps the charcoal soup the patient consumed took care of the issue so in this case, no news is good news. ;)

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15 minutes ago, Toliver said:

I think the original mention was on the Dinner thread. I had Googled it because the poster used them in a dish and sounded like "Hey, no worries..." and I kept seeing online articles about the cyanide (with peach pits, as well).


I wouldn't go so far as "Hey, no worries..." but I also don't like the idea of saying nobody can have something because some might use it incorrectly or irresponsibly. I've made use of cherry pits, peach pits and tonka beans without the slightest worry. I read the precautions, did my research and made my personal decision on the matter. I would never tell someone else they should make use of those things... but I would never tell them they shouldn't either. I would just tell them to gather the information and make their own informed choice. As a somewhat unrelated side-note, cherry pit ice cream is a thing of beauty. :D

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Many of my local stores have these. Despite the languages on the packaging, they are Chinese made and apparently popular.

 

5a587379bb853_onebite.thumb.jpg.22d11a16917bbdda62023cd9364fd579.jpg

 

One bite and it's all over, perhaps.

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I have heard of them as a destination for desperate cancer patients to go to Mexico for laetrile. It's legal there, I think, and not here. I have known cancer victims to get very, very desperate. This is a sad disease.

 

And, nope. I do not agree that apricot kernels are something to snack on for fun or tastiness.

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1 hour ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:


And, nope. I do not agree that apricot kernels are something to snack on for fun or tastiness.
 


But if there is a responsible and safe way to use them, do you agree that nobody should be allowed to have them just because you don't agree that they should and some people may choose to not use them responsibly and according to directions? That's the difference for me. There are many prescription and over-the-counter drugs that do good things for many people used correctly that get abused and used incorrectly by many other people for personal satisfaction. Should all of those drugs be removed from the market and taken from those who use them responsibly so that those who don't can't have access to them? 

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I think it’s quite reasonable to say that selling them and packaging them in the same way as snack nuts - making it easier for someone to purchase without noticing the label or grab the wrong bag by accident - is a bad idea. If they’re being sold and consumed as more of a supplement/vitamin type thing, the packaging could reflect that and encourage people to think about rate of consumption just through package design.

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4 hours ago, quiet1 said:

I think it’s quite reasonable to say that selling them and packaging them in the same way as snack nuts - making it easier for someone to purchase without noticing the label or grab the wrong bag by accident - is a bad idea. If they’re being sold and consumed as more of a supplement/vitamin type thing, the packaging could reflect that and encourage people to think about rate of consumption just through package design.


That's a fair argument. Maybe put the warning on the front and back of the packaging and in a manner that calls attention to it. I don't have a problem with that. I just think there's a point with anything where it's reasonable to say "we provided instructions for proper use and warnings against improper use" and have the expectation that the burden then shifts to the consumer. Whether or not this particular product achieved that point is debatable so that's probably enough to warrant them making a better effort to get the warning noticed.

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One of the things we're warned against when writing technical manuals is to use warnings "judiciously." In other words, don't put so many that people start to ignore them. If the product is unsafe to consume in a large quantity, it should have a gigantic warning on it. OTOH, "hot product is hot," is stupid. The proliferation of the latter is a problem.

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6 hours ago, Allura said:

One of the things we're warned against when writing technical manuals is to use warnings "judiciously." In other words, don't put so many that people start to ignore them. If the product is unsafe to consume in a large quantity, it should have a gigantic warning on it. OTOH, "hot product is hot," is stupid. The proliferation of the latter is a problem.

 

I think there are also cues that can be used to help people notice warnings, when we’re talking about product packaging. The pictured packaging looks identical to something you’d find on a rack for snacking - I’d expect to see walnuts and pecans and almonds and so on in very similar packaging. If they’re intended to be consumed 1-2 a day as a supplement, like a vitamin, then packaging them like a supplement - bottle with a pseudo-pharmaceutical label and clear doseage information for example - gives fairly strong cues that you should perhaps read the info on the bottle, you know?

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8 hours ago, quiet1 said:

 

I think there are also cues that can be used to help people notice warnings, when we’re talking about product packaging. The pictured packaging looks identical to something you’d find on a rack for snacking - I’d expect to see walnuts and pecans and almonds and so on in very similar packaging. If they’re intended to be consumed 1-2 a day as a supplement, like a vitamin, then packaging them like a supplement - bottle with a pseudo-pharmaceutical label and clear doseage information for example - gives fairly strong cues that you should perhaps read the info on the bottle, you know?

Yeah, right. For foodstuff ...

 

If I buy a product that I put in my mouth I think I should make the decision consciously. Meaning I know what I am buying and eating. If not, just leave it in the shelf. This "I did not know this is searingly hot / semitoxic / highly caloric" card is something that is very, very unsettling to me. If you eat it it is your responsibility to make sure you can digest it. Blaming the producer / vendor  / server is unique to a certain mindset (dare I say culture) and in most of this world certainly met with the same disbelief that I am trying to convey here ...

 

P.S.: This is not meant to offend anyone personally. I just feel very strong about this ...


Edited by Duvel Apologies added (log)
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1 hour ago, Duvel said:

Yeah, right. For foodstuff ...

 

If I buy a product that I put in my mouth I think I should make the decision consciously. Meaning I know what I am buying and eating. If not, just leave it in the shelf. This "I did not know this is searingly hot / semitoxic / highly caloric" card is something that is very, very unsettling to me. If you eat it it is your responsibility to make sure you can digest it. Blaming the producer / vendor  / server is unique to a certain mindset (dare I say culture) and in most of this world certainly met with the same disbelief that I am trying to convey here ...

 

P.S.: This is not meant to offend anyone personally. I just feel very strong about this ...

 

 

So if they were selling drain cleaner in a bottle that looked like just another flavor of juice, on a shelf with nearly identically packaged juice, that would be just fine? 

 

I think there’s a pretty big spectrum between essentially the ultimate “buyer beware” and “consumers have no responsibility at all.”

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1 hour ago, quiet1 said:

I think there’s a pretty big spectrum between essentially the ultimate “buyer beware” and “consumers have no responsibility at all.”

 

I agree.  If the seller is 100% sure that the cyanide has been de-activated and it would be safe for a child to eat the whole bag, then they are fine on the snack aisle.  If it is supposed to be a supplement or drug, they should be treated as such and go through all the FDA hoops for those categories.  Food producers have a responsibility to put safe product on the shelf.  We have to label for allergens but not poison?  If I have to label that my sweets contain soy because the thin layer of pan spray contains soy lecithin and soy is a class 1 allergen, how can anyone be putting cyanide on the shelf? 

 

Yes, the warnings and labels and lawsuits sometimes get out of hand.  People occasionally die from drinking too much water, but that doesn't mean we need warning labels on bottled water sold in quantity.  Apple seeds contain cyanide but they are not typically eaten, so we probably don't need warnings on apples either.  But we do need to spell things out so the average person with an eighth grade vocabulary will understand.  Not everybody went to college, or reads well, or has English as a first language, and children like snacks too.  I'll go to the Asian grocery store and buy things that I can barely decipher, I trust that they are actually food.  We should be able to trust that the items on the grocery store snack aisle are actually food and won't hurt us if we over-indulge.

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