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No more Kinder Surprise in Germany?

Every child in Europe knows what Kinder Surprise is, though it goes by so many names depending on the language of the country where is marketed. I know it as Kinder Surprise (English/French) or Kinder ?berraschung (German) or Kinder Sorpresa (Spanish).

For those who aren’t familiar with this confection, it’s the chocolate egg manufactured by the Italian firm Ferrero (also the maker of Nutella). It’s the size of a real egg and is also hollow like an egg. Surrounded by the thin chocolate shell is a little plastic capsule containing the surprise – little plastic toys. The toys, however, are rather special – they are of good quality and are collectibles. There are also special seasonal and limited editions. Each year, the company comes up with newly designed toys. Some consists of several pieces that need to be assembled, complete with instruction manual. It’s so remarkable what they can fit in such a small space inside the egg.

Because of these collectibles, Kinder Surprise has become very popular not only with kids, with adults as well. Ask my big sister who always wants me to bring her a whole egg tray every time I fly to Asia.

Now, the reason Americans aren’t familiar with this delight is the fact that it isn’t marketed in the US because it supposedly violates the provisions of US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that doesn’t allow non-nutritive items embedded in food items.

Well, it seems that a German federal authorities dealing with consumer safety and health are thinking along the same lines as the Americans. There’s a discussion going on in Berlin about the prohibition of Kinder Surprise, on the grounds of:

  • The combination of chocolate and toy confuses the child, who may not be able to distinguish between food and toy.
  • The small plastic pieces may present a choking hazard for kids below 3.

I guess the authorities are right in putting the safety of the kids first. However, many people point out that in its over 30 years of history, no safety issues have come up. Well, as they say, there is always a first time.

So far, only the Germans have expressed concerns. Other European countries haven’t complained so far. Let’s see whether the German health authorities will deny future generations of Kinder Surprise.

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