Smoke shops sell a variety of different THC edibles. Some are packaged to look like popular candies. (Photo by Kaylie Pomichalek)

Columbia parents should check their children’s Halloween candy this year for a few things that could potentially be harmful, safety experts say.

A Missouri mother found Delta-8 THC gummy worms in her 5-year-old son’s candy on Oct. 8 after a trunk or treat event, according to several news outlets. Authorities believe the gummies were handed out by mistake.

In July, the FDA released a report about the risk to children from products containing THC, the principle psychoactive compound in marijuana.

Certain edible THC products can easily be mistaken for other common foods, such as cereal, candy and cookies, according to the report. Some products are even designed with brand names or logos to mimic other well-known foods.

“These copycats are easily mistaken for popular, well-recognized foods that appeal to children,” the report said.

The FDA, for example, is aware of products packaged to look like Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids and Nerds Ropes.

THC edibles that look like candy can be bought in smoke shops all over Columbia. If children accidentally eat these products, it could lead to serious adverse effects.

“Delta-8 is definitely not a good thing for a kid to get into,” said Mezz Johnson, the assistant manager at the Crowntown Cannabis smoke shop in Five Points. Eating a large amount will “definitely send a kid to the hospital,” he said.

Another potential hazard for children this Halloween is rainbow fentanyl — something that’s much riskier. The street drug that’s stronger than heroin can be a pill or a powder, among other things. But the biggest offender is the pill, which can easily be mistaken for Sweet Tarts if you’re not careful.

A DEA press release in August warned the public of the “emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States.”

The organization and their law enforcement partners seized the drug from 18 states in August.

Just two milligrams of fentanyl — equal to 10-15 grains of table salt — is considered a lethal dose, the release said. And because there is no way to tell how much might be in something without lab testing, anything with fentanyl in it is extremely dangerous.

“The drug we find the most now is fentanyl,” said Sgt. Henry Owens with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s unlikely anyone will be handing out colorful fentanyl on Halloween, since most people are looking to sell not give away, Owens said, but the possibility that children could accidentally ingest the drug at any time is always a concern.

“I can easily see a child mistaking it for candy,” he said.

So what can parents do to keep their kids as safe as possible this Halloween?

The FDA recommends giving your child a snack before they go out trick or treating to prevent them from eating their candy before they get home. Make sure your children also know not to accept — or eat — anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. Check any candy your children bring home and throw out anything that might have been tampered with or looks suspicious.

And if you find anything you think could be deadly, leave it where it is and contact law enforcement.

Here are three examples of edibles that can look like normal candy if you’re not careful. (Photo by Kaylie Pomichalek)

This lollipop might look like a regular lollipop, but it actually contains Delta-8 THC. (Photo by Kaylie Pomichalek)

This is just one way rainbow fentanyl, an illegal street drug, can look. These can kill you. (Photo courtesy of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration)