Why are Kinder Surprise illegal in the US?

Kinder Surprise illegal

Many people are unaware of the consequences of trying to bring popular Kinder Surprise into the United States. In addition to having the egg itself confiscated, tourists can expect a hefty fine of several to several thousand dollars. Why has one of the largest countries in the world issued a crusade against chocolate eggs?

Sulfanilamide Elixir

The United States law called the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the marketing of food products that contain a hidden inedible product. This means that a wedding cake with a plastic figurine standing on top is acceptable, but a cake with a hidden surprise that you have to get to by cutting out pieces of it is not. However, the bill was in response not to plastic toys hidden in cakes but to a tragedy that occurred in 1937 when more than 100 people died as a result of mass poisoning from a poorly prepared drug. In 1937, a product called Sulfanilamide Elixir was introduced to pharmacies. Diethylene glycol, a substance now used in antifreeze, among others, was used to dilute the substance. Glycol is toxic to the body. Unfortunately, drugs and food products were not subjected to as rigorous testing as they are today, because there were only laws prohibiting the use of drugs in their manufacture. Unaware of the toxicity of this substance, a chemist mixed an antibiotic with glycol and flavored it with raspberry juice. As a result of consumption of the preparation in 15 states at least 100 people died, including children. This caused a huge public outcry. The owner of the company added fuel to the fire by stating that he was not responsible for the deaths because he did not know about the product’s toxicity. The chemist responsible for the formula committed suicide.

Bottles of elixir sulfanilamide
Bottles of elixir sulfanilamide (Wikimedia commons)

In response to these events, the U.S. Senate passed a law that imposed a host of obligations on manufacturers of drugs, cosmetics and food products. The law is still in effect today. No one knew at the time that it would threaten the tiny toys hidden in chocolate eggs in the future.

Nestle Magic

Why isn’t anyone trying to change in terms of the unfortunate eggs? This is where the free market comes into play. In 1997, Nestle tried to launch a product in the US that was their answer to Kinder surprise egg. The product was called Nestle Magic and was a chocolate ball with a Disney toy hidden inside. Nestle armed with lawyers tried to challenge the position of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the representatives of which believed that the toy was unsafe. Nestle began lobbying the Senate to change the controversial law. However, it turned out that their competitor, Mars, was doing the same thing, only against them. Mars initially denied any involvement in the case, but it later emerged that the company was funding the case against Nestle. Successfully. Nestle lost. And because there is a law of precedent in the U.S., any company trying to introduce a similar product stands to lose in advance.

Kinder didn’t give up trying to bring eggs to the US market and thus Kinder Joy was created. This is an attempt to get around the act by selling an egg consisting of two halves. One half of the egg is filled chocolate and the other half hides a surprise toy. At the moment, it is the closest substitute for the iconic eggs in the US market.

Kinder joy
Kinder joy ad (Source: Kinder.com)

Sources:

https://www.kinder.com/us/en/kinder-joy

https://www.fda.gov/files/about%20fda/published/The-Sulfanilamide-Disaster.pdf

 

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