Warning: Candy May Contain “Human Flesh”

human flesh in candyA Facebook friend posted this picture of a candy wrapper, featuring the warning:

MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF PEANUTS AND HUMAN FLESH

Not sure where he got it or if it’s real. It doesn’t look Photoshopped (but it’s hard to tell sometimes).

Human tissue does sometimes end up in food products during the manufacturing process, probably more often than we would want to know.

My favorite “flesh in food” cases is a 94-year-old Mississippi Supreme Court case where the plaintiff found a human toe in a plug of chewing tobacco. That’s one way to “kick” the habit.  Har, har.

The plaintiff couldn’t prove how the toe got there, so he invoked res ipsa loquitur. For non-legals, res ipsa loquitur is a procedural device that allows a tort plaintiff to get his case to a jury despite a lack of specific evidence that the defendant was negligent if: (1) the injury-causing event is of a nature that ordinarily would not happen unless someone was negligent; and (2) the defendant had control of the instrumentality at the time the negligence most likely occurred.

I have always loved the Mississippi court’s terse analysis of the first element: “We can imagine no reason why, with ordinary care, human toes could not be left out of chewing tobacco, and if toes are found in chewing tobacco, it seems to us that somebody has been very careless.” Pillars v. R.J. Reynolds, 78 So. 365 (1918).

But is human flesh getting into food really such an extensive problem that manufactuters feel obligated to warn about it? This is either a fishy warning or our food supply and worker safety programs are in worse shape than believed. Or, a third possibility is that California passed a law.

1 comment to Warning: Candy May Contain “Human Flesh”

  • Pat Brazill

    Haha, I love the reference to the Pillars case. I chew, so when I read Pillars in my Products Liability class, it definitely stayed with me.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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