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©2006 The Media Desk

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      Believe it or not, this one WAS true, sort of, maybe it actually MIGHT be true. Possibly. But you shouldn't bet on it.

      Here's how it might be true.....
      If the old mix was moldy the person that ate it Could have had an anaphylactic reaction to the mold, and sometimes those can be serious. So the incident Might have actually happened, or at least something similar. However, the email below and another similar story that has made the rounds are almost certainly hoaxes. The other email has even been reported on various TV outlets without significant alteration or fact checking, including a 'false attribution' to a doctor at a 'famous hospital' in South Carolina.
      Fact Checking is something that spam emails and well-meaning but sensationalist "Consumer Alert" newspeople seldom seem to do, being more interested in ratings than truth.

      It is worth noting here and now that the US National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control don't seem to have anything on the 'toxic pancake' incident or warnings other than the standard mold abatement documentation for disaster recovery.
      A page of good information on mold and other food contaminates can be found here: Unwelcome Dinner Guest at the US Citizen Information Center-

      All that aside....
      The warning in the email story is real. And it not only applies to pancake mix and other dry foods, but to medications and even canned food- Yes canned soup can and will go bad. A good rule of thumb is, when it celebrates its second birthday in your pantry, throw it out. See for more information.

Back to the email.

      However, the story seems to have started out in a Dear Abby column and may be five years old or more, and again, there is no supporting documentation to the story, so it may have begun its life as a tall tale and has now gone full circle. So it is probably older than the pancake mix it's talking about.
      A posted copy of the Dear Abby article from-

Other links on the subject:
The famous version of the story. looked at it as well.

The National Institutes of Health:

The Center for Disease Control:

The full address for the Citizen Information Page on food safety:

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------

From: "Eleanor"
To: A Desk Address
Subject: Important message
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 13:51:46 +0000
I just received this from a friend and cleaned out my cupboard!!!
      I recently made a batch of pancakes for my healthy 14-year-old son, using a mix that was in our pantry. He said that they tasted "funny," but ate them anyway. About 10 minutes later, he began having difficulty breathing and his lips began turning purple. I gave him his allergy pill, had him sit on the sofa and told him to relax. He was wheezing while inhaling and exhaling. My husband, a volunteer firefighter and EMT, heated up some water, and we had my son lean over the water so the steam could clear his chest and sinuses. Soon, his breathing became more regular and his lips returned to a more normal color. We checked the date on the box of pancake mix and, to my dismay, found it was very outdated. As a reference librarian at an academic institution, I have the ability to search through many research databases. I did just that, and found an article the next day that mentioned a 19-year-old male DYING after eating pancakes made with outdated mix. Apparently, the mold that forms in old pancake mix can be toxic!
      When we told our friends about my son's close call, we were surprised at the number of people who mentioned that they should check their own pancake mix since they don't use it often, or they had purchased it some time ago. With so many people shopping at warehouse-type stores and buying large sizes of pancake mix, I hope your readers will take the time to check the expiration date on their boxes. Also, beware of outdated cake, brownie and cookie mixes.
      PASS IT ON!!!!

end spam

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