Regulation of the Day 170: Kinder Eggs

Kinder eggs are a type of candy that enjoys worldwide popularity. They are chocolate eggs with a plastic shell underneath the outside layer of chocolate. After kids enjoy the chocolate, they can open up the plastic shell and find a toy inside. They are especially popular around Easter.

They are also illegal in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have declared the toys to be a safety hazard. Children could choke on them.

A third agency, Customs and Border Patrol, confiscates about 25,000 kinder eggs per year. Most people know that kinder eggs aren’t actually a choking hazard, so they don’t know about the ban and think nothing of bringing some home from a trip.

NRO’s Mark Steyn recently had just such a run-in when he and his children returned from a trip to Canada:

My kids asked the CBP seizure squad if they could eat the chocolate in front of the border guards while the border guards held on to the toys to prevent any choking hazard — and then, having safely consumed the chocolate, take the toys home as a separate item. This request was denied.

As I noted in previous Regulation of the Day:

According to WebMD, 66 to 77 children under 10 die every year from choking on food in the U.S. That’s out of more than 42,000,000 children under 10, according to my calculations from U.S. Census data.

That means your child’s odds of choking to death on food are about 1 in 545,000. And that’s assuming 77 deaths, the high end of the range. Little Timmy is literally more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 500,000) than choke to death on a hot dog.

I’m sure that SPSC, FDA, and CBP would love to credit their diligence in enforcing the kinder egg ban for those reassuring numbers. But common sense says they shouldn’t.