What we know about microdosing candy diseases, while the death investigation continues

The bar with the Birthday Cake flavor.
Enlarge / The bar with the Birthday Cake flavor.

One person may have died after eating Diamond Shruumz microdosing candies, which were recalled last week due to a series of serious illnesses involving seizures, intubation and intensive care unit admissions.

According to an update this week from the Food and Drug Administration, the number of cases continues to rise across the country. So far, 48 people in 24 states have become sick after eating the candies, which include candy bars, gummies and candy cones sold online and in retail stores, such as smoke and vape shops. Of the 48 sickened people, 46 were sick enough to seek medical attention and 27 were hospitalized.

For now, the death listed in the FDA’s latest update is only “possibly associated” with the candy and is still under investigation. No other information is available.

But in an interview with Ars, medical toxicologist Michael Moss wasn’t surprised that the candies could be deadly. Moss, medical director of the Utah Poison Control Center, treated one of the first people to fall ill in the cluster.

An early case

The person became ill in Nevada and was transferred to a hospital in Utah, where Moss was a member of his care team. After the person emerged from intensive care, Moss sat down with him and tried to piece together what had happened. According to Moss, the person had purchased a Birthday Cake-flavored candy bar from a local store. The bars are marketed as “microdosing” candies, suggesting they contain psychedelic compounds, but the exact components and dosages are not disclosed.

Although the person Moss told him that he had experience with psychedelics before, it was only with actual mushrooms. This was the first time he had eaten such a bar. And the packaging of the bar only gave vague instructions about how much to eat at one time to achieve certain effects. For example, eating nine or more squares of the bar was described with a picture of an eye with many rainbow colors.

“What does that dose mean? And how many milligrams of what is that? Nobody knows,” Moss said. “So he decided, ‘It’s a chocolate bar.’ So why not just eat the chocolate bar? Pretty reasonable thing to do.”

But within minutes of eating the candy bar, the person felt nauseous and very dizzy and tired. He lay down and can’t remember much after that. Luckily, a family member came home shortly after and found him. The family member saw that he had vomited and was possibly aspirating or choking. By the time emergency services arrived, he was having a seizure. He had another one in the emergency room. Doctors gave him anti-seizure drugs, a breathing tube, and put him on a ventilator before taking him to a hospital in Utah.

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