by Kevin Coupe

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is out with a new warning for people 40 years of age or older, saying that “black licorice candy may be more trick than treat” and that “eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could trigger an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and other troubles,” according to a story from United Press International (UPI). In fact, the FDA suggests that nobody - no matter what age - should eat large amounts of it at one time.

The reason: “Black licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall, which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms as well as high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy and congestive heart failure, the FDA said.”

The good news: “After one stops eating black licorice, potassium levels typically return to normal and there are no permanent health problems, according to the agency.”

I hadn’t seen this story until Michael Sansolo sent me a panicked text message about it. “No more binging,” he warned.

But in this case, Michael got it wrong. Because while I am an admitted licorice addict - in my house, they refer to it as ‘Dad’s heroin” - it actually only is Strawberry Twizzlers to which I’m addicted. (No other flavors, and certainly not Red Vines, which are just a pale imitation.)

So while people who love black licorice should see the FDA report as an Eye-Opener, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. And hoping that there will some leftovers after Halloween tonight.