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    Talking 'Don't Eat Flaming Marshmallow Act'

    Campfire staple can lead to trouble, says Island's chief medical officer

    By Katherine Dedyna, Times Colonist July 18, 2009Comments (10)

    There's no such thing as being too careful when it comes to kids and camping -- even for hyper-vigilant parents. But peril can take unexpected forms -- including the seemingly innocuous marshmallow, if improperly handled.

    For maximum health and safety, Vancouver Island's top doc offers his wish-list of marshmallow-roasting techniques for 21st century campfire kids:

    1. Apply hand sanitizer before selecting marshmallow.

    2. Sterilize roasting twig by thrusting in fire.

    3. Remove carbon from twig with clean tissue

    4. Put clean marshmallow on clean twig with clean hand and roast away.

    "And don't eat too many because one, they're pure sugar, and two, all of us have burned our mouths on marshmallows," says Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer of health for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

    "If there's a flame coming out of it, it's probably too hot."

    Avoid waving around blazing twigs be-gobbed with melting mallows or carcinogenic charred bits -- as your grandparents probably did. That could burn exposed skin or worse, eyes, or even cause startled kids to stumble into the fire. OK, I made up this last bit up, but it could happen, and I'm not the only one to worry. A quick Google search shows 188,000 sites mention "marshmallows and safety."

    Marshmallows are also on the front burner with MasterCard PayPass. Media outlets have been inundated with unsolicited freebies in the form of S'mores ingredients and a list of 20 steps to the perfect marshmallow stick, including whittling and bark-stripping tips. Because more time around the campfire is priceless, don't you know?

    On the other hand, a blunt-end, handcrafted stick from MarshmallowChefSticks.com will keep your kid more than a metre from the fire for only $25 -- another $6 to emblazon it with their name. All prices in US dollars.

    Stanwick doesn't want to sound like a "nervous nanny" -- he just wants to help kids have a happy summer camp experience. Before they get to camp, though, he suggests parents ask at least five questions of camp operators:

    1. What access is there to a physician?

    2. Is the swimming area frequented by geese, hence swimmer's itch?

    3. Can staff administer CPR?

    4. Does the camp have its regular water source tested by VIHA?

    5. Is there an isolation facility, not "a primitive lean-to" should a child fall ill?

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


    Laughing in the face of marshmallow danger

    July 20, 2009

    Hidden dangers of marshmallows — are you joking readers ask?

    An article in Saturday's Times Colonist had suggestions from the Vancouver Island Health Authority on safety measures to be taken around a campfire while roasting marshmallows. Tips included using hand sanitizer before handling marshmallows, sterilizing the roasting twig by thrusting it in the fire and removing carbon from the twig with clean tissue. it was also suggested that if there's a flame coming out of the marshmallow, it's too hot to eat.

    Camp instructions a recipe for paranoia

    When I first read the headline “Hidden dangers of marshmallows” (July 18), I thought it was a Jack Knox special, in which he would poke fun at the absurdities visited upon us in the name of safety.

    However, reading further, I discovered this was a serious warning passed on by our own chief medical officer for health for VIHA.

    It seems there is a lot to be aware of in the toasting of a marshmallow. Sanitize your hands before choosing your marshmallow, sterilize your roasting twig and remove carbon with a clean tissue. Only when your marshmallow and stick are totally sterile can you go ahead and toast — not too many though; they’re all sugar!

    Thanks, Dr. Richard Stanwick, for removing all the fun parts of a marshmallow roast! The one you really have to mind though is not to put those flaming marshmallows in your mouth!

    It turns out the whole Family 411 page was devoted to the terrors that lurk, not only at summer camp and the beach, but in our own bathrooms.

    Twelve things to be aware of when sending your child to camp was particularly instructive. No eating anything off the forest floor, Johnny, it might not be a raisin! By the time one packs their child’s first aid kit and runs down the list of ways to avoid unpleasantness in the great outdoors, don’t be surprised if your kid opts for staying home in front of the computer. Perhaps a bit more common sense and a lot less paranoia would be a better recipe for fun.

    Shirley Stirrett


    Nervous nannies and roasted marshmallows

    Oh and kids, don’t forget to mask, gown and glove ... because we’re going to have a marshmallow roast.

    In all honesty, I can’t say I have read such a ridiculous article as “Hidden dangers of marshmallows” for a long, long time.

    I initially thought it was a joke. The article goes on to talk about how to handle the innocuous marshmallow and the perils of improperly handled marshmallows. From sanitizing one’s hands and sterilizing the twig to removing carbon (huh?) from the twig and finally to “ put clean marshmallow on clean twig with clean hand and roast away.” Enjoy? I don’t think so.

    With articles on suggestions such as these from our chief medical officer of health for the Vancouver Island Heath Authority, our children are destined to develop obsessive compulsive disorders and even eating disorders.

    What ever happened to the good old days, when roasting a marshmallow was pure, honest, unadulterated fun, not diluted with extraneous matter.

    Its not a surgical procedure — and yes Dr. Stanwick, you do sound like a “nervous nanny.”

    Susan Speight Forrest


    Worry about dirty hospitals, not marshmallows

    “Vancouver Island’s top doc” would have us carry a complete pharmacy on our camping trips.

    Perhaps he ought to pay more attention to the increasing lack of sanitation in our hospitals and let the kids have fun.

    Rick Weatherill


    The ‘Don’t Eat Flaming Mushrooms Act’ needed

    At last our resident beadle, medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick, has gone public on the too-long neglected marshmallow menace (July 18). Not only does Stanwick helpfully identify a five-step procedure for ensuring roasted marshmallow sterility, but more importantly alerts us to a subtle danger that would escape even the most health and safety conscious — don’t eat a marshmallow “if there is flame coming out of it.”

    Our only regret is that Stanwick’s marshmallow “wish list” has not yet been enshrined in law. We urge the good doctor to proceed with haste. How many more must suffer before our guardians act?

    Drew Yallop


    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    "If there's a flame coming out of it, it's probably too hot."
    That has to be my favorite quote of the year. I think it earned a place in my signature
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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