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No ‘killer sweet’ in circulation as claimed in viral WhatsApp message

Claim: A viral video on WhatsApp has drawn attention of the public  to a new type of sweet that is believed to kill consumers. 

Although 46 school children were reportedly admitted into a health facility at KwaZulu-Natal for abdominal pains allegedly linked to a sweet called “XPOP Energy Red Dragon lollipop,” none of the children died and the alleged sweet is yet to be confirmed as the cause of their illness. As such,  it cannot be established that a sweet is killing people. This claim is misleading.

Full Text 

Sweets, chocolates are cravings for almost every child. A new information spreading appears to heighten the dangers of what sweets can do to children.   

In a clip that has been repeatedly forwarded on WhatsApp, an unknown man was seen passionately warning mothers to restrict their little children from buying candies.

Speaking in Yorùbá language, he said that a newly produced sweet named “Killer Sweet” is out. He alleged that it has been killing people and is currently the cause of stomach ache for some school children that were seen crying at a health facility which was briefly displayed in the video.

The viral video on WhatsApp

The clip of the unknown claimant apparently triggered parents’ concerns, pushing individuals to share the video so that lives can be saved. Although the clip of the man was not found on other social media platforms aside WhatsApp, the part which shows the crying pupils has  largely been redistributed to users on blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Apparently, the video has been used to paint different versions of narratives on the internet, all warning parents about a killer sweet that has taken lives. While some narratives say many kids have died, others say hundreds of kids were poisoned.

Different versions of stories painted with the video

Although unspoken, the degree at which this video is shared signals a looming fear amongst parents, a good reason to authenticate this piece of information. 

Verification

Multiple reports from credible media outlets reveal that a lollipop has allegedly led to stomach discomfort for 46 pupils in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on January 31st. However,  the name of the sweet is not “Killer Sweet” as alleged by the unknown claimant in the video but  “XPOP ENERGY RED DRAGON,” produced by Richester Foods. 

Soon after the children’s illness was referenced to the Richester food, the Managing Director, Dr Hussein Cassim, in a news report by NEWS24, noted that the company is taking the utmost “caution in managing the situation, and that it has launched a full internal investigation into the matter.”

The Richester food’s XPOP ENERGY RED DRAGON lollipop in question

Was there really an incident of 46 children falling ill?

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has confirmed in a press release that “one of its hospitals in Ilembe District treated 46 children from a local primary school, after they had complained abdominal pains” and outrightly debunked the claim that any of the children had died.

The Department further disclosed that it is “unable to confirm the cause of this sudden illness” and that the affected children were treated and discharged the same day.

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health media release

Conclusions reached by the Richester food over the matter

After its internal investigation, the Richester Foods, manufacturer of the lollipop, has published resolutions on its official Facebook page, emphasising that its product (the XPOP Energy)  could not have  been the cause of the illness. 

“We have been selling XPOP Energy Red Dragon lollipop since 2017 and we have not had any complaints about this product in the past 5 years that it has been available to the public,” it posted.

A disclaimer by Richester Foods

The claimant, who only spoke in Yoruba, used the same video of the South African children in the Natal hospital who till today have not been confirmed to have fallen ill for eating the XPOP lollipop. 

Conclusion

Although 46 school children were reportedly admitted into a health facility at KwaZulu-Natal for abdominal pains, there’s no credible evidence that links XPOP Energy Red Dragon lollipop to the cause of their illness. As well, the lollipop in question is not a new product. According to Richester Food’s disclaimer, it has been in the market since 2017.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health confirmed that none of the affected children has died. This claim is therefore misleading.

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