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WASHINGTON - Children still are choking to death from Asian-made jelly candies despite repeated recalls, a ban on imports and a move by major grocery chains to pull the dangerous sweets off the shelves, The Associated Press reports.
Six U.S. children now have died from the conjac jelly candy, the latest a 2-year-old in New Jersey around the New Year's holiday, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.
Walong Marketing Inc., a California company, is the latest company to recall its four brands of conjac jelly candy.
The brightly colored gel candies come in mouth-sized servings in small plastic cups in different fruit flavors, often with a piece of fruit embedded inside. The fruit doesn't readily dissolve in the mouth - and the gel is so sticky that rescue workers have reported being unable to dislodge it from the throats of choking children.
The candies are sold under dozens of brand names, such as Jelly Yum and Fruit Poppers, and also are known as konjac, konnyaku, yam flour or glucomannan. Some jars carry a label warning that the candies are not safe for children under age 6, others age 3; still others bear no warning.
In August, hundreds of grocery stores pulled the sweets from their shelves after health officials announced the deaths of two children in California, a third in Washington state and a dozen in other countries. By October, the FDA had stopped imports.
But three more U.S. children have died since then, one each in Massachusetts, Texas and New Jersey, the FDA said Tuesday.
Dozens of small companies apparently had large stocks of the imported candies, so sales continue - particularly in Asian food markets - until FDA inspectors stumble over individual sellers.