FDA Issues Licorice Warning

Thursday, October 27th 2011, 7:14 pm
By: News 9

Jamie Oberg, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Food and Drug Administration is warning against one particular trick-or-treat candy that may lead to serious heart problems.

Black licorice is the treat they say could trick your heart or even trigger a heart attack.

FDA food experts warn a chemical in the plant used to make the candy can be bad for your heart.

It can be seriously frightening for adults over 40 years old, some with histories of heart disease or high blood pressure, according to the FDA.

It's a spooky message for those stocking up this Halloween candy season as well.

If you have this treat at home or plan to give it out on Oct. 31st, listen up.

The FDA says NO ONE should eat a lot of it in one sitting or risk going to the hospital this Halloween.

Several medical journals have linked black licorice to health problem in adults over 40 years old, some with histories of heart disease or high blood pressure, according to the FDA.

"My favorite is this[salt-water taffy], and the chocolate up there," nine-year-old Trinity Sisk said eyeing all the candy options at Bricktown's Candy Company in downtown OKC.

Trinity can almost taste it…"I feel good, I'm hyper, I stay awake, all night," she said smiling,

The Halloween candy is almost in her grasp.

"Just go to every house I can," that's Trinity's plan to get the highest candy count on Halloween night.

Bricktown Candy Company owner Justin Thomas sees that same youthful glee whenever any candy lover walks in the door.

"It's good for the soul, makes you happy," Thomas said. But a new government warning, saying too much licorice eaten in large amounts may mean a trip to the hospital, especially for those with high-blood pressure or heart conditions.

FDA food experts say black licorice has a compound called glycyrrhizin, a sweetening chemical that comes from the root of licorice plant, that could have folks heading to the hospital this Halloween.

• No matter what your age, don't eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.

• If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.

• Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.

The news of some serious potential health problems caused by too much licorice has taken some happiness away from Trinity's mom.

"I wouldn't think it was dangerous. No," Trinity's mom, Jordan Rackley said.

Rackley happens to work at Bricktown Candy and also shares her daughter's sweet tooth, but she is more concerned about keeping up with Trinity on Halloween night.

"I would have to say the same for Red Bull or too much coffee in the morning," Thomas said. "I don't think it's going to damage the image of Halloween or candy."

Bricktown Candy Co. workers say black licorice lovers are a breed of their own, "Typically buy a large bag of licorice, one or two candies, but they're pretty specific with their purchase," Thomas said.

They will let the next buyers know about the warning, but as a fellow black licorice lover, Thomas doesn't think the shop black licorice bins or business will be impacted much at all.

"There's a lot of health benefits to licorice, there's a balance."

Licorice has been used as a natural supplement to treat various ailments such as bronchitis, coughs, sore throat and stomach woes, but scientific studies have been inconclusive of its effectiveness.

The FDA wants black licorice lovers to take it easy on their favorite treat; it may save them a trip to the doctor or hospital.

If you get to the bottom of the bag and have an irregular heart beat or muscle weakness, stop eating it and call your doctor immediately.

The FDA warning says more than two ounces of the licorice a day for two weeks is too much and has caused heart problems.