Fact Check: 'Experts' Did NOT Issue Warning That Black Licorice Causes Instant Death In 'Seniors'-- Only After Excessive Consumption

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: 'Experts' Did NOT Issue Warning That Black Licorice Causes Instant Death In 'Seniors'-- Only After Excessive Consumption Ingest Excess

Did "experts" issue a warning stating black licorice causes instant death in "seniors"? No, that's not entirely true: This claim is missing context. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that eating an excessive amount of black licorice over a long period can cause serious health problems, which could eventually lead to death -- for a person of any age.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on November 4, 2021. Underneath the image of what seems to be black licorice Twizzlers on a plate, the text read:

Experts Warn Black Licorice Could Cause Instant Death In Seniors

The caption read:


This is what the post looked like on November 5, 2021:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Nov 5 22:22:23 2021 UTC)

An FDA press officer confirmed in a November 5, 2021, email advice from a 4-year-old FDA article that said, "If you're 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia."

Nancy Cohen, professor emerita of the School of Public Health & Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, agreed in a November 5, 2021, email:

It is possible to die from heart issues due to too much black licorice, but it is not immediate, and, as the FDA notes, one would need to eat 2 ounces per day for two or more weeks. Most people don't consume that much and thus safely eat small amounts, but it is possible to do so. In addition, black licorice can interfere with many common medications and should be avoided in pregnancy. One can get licorice flavor without the offending compound (called glycyrrhizin) by choosing foods with anise instead, or choose black licorice that has the glycyrrhizin removed, or consume red licorice (which typically doesn't have any real licorice ingredients).

Hershey Company spokesperson Jeff Beckman said in an October 31, 2019, article that:

The dried extract that we add to black Twizzlers contains a small amount of glycyrrhizin that is far below the maximum amount the FDA permits in soft candy like licorice.

The FDA article concluded with this official warning:

• No matter what your age, don't eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.
• If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
• Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion