Cecil, please study up on the signs of cyanide poisoning!

In this column commenting on the possibility of cyanide in beet sugar, Cecil queries:

Unfortunately, when one does expire from cyanide poisoning, they tend to turn quite pink and die.

Like carbon monoxide when it combines with hemoglobin, cyanide-hemoglobin complexes are quite red in coloration, and even the most hypoxic person will tend to look a most cheery shade of pink-red when passing away from cyanide ingestion.

I’ve never treated a cyanide poisoning patient myself, but I have had a few unfortunate CO overdose victims brought in while I was on duty, and they were very sadly rosy-cheeked when I pronounced them dead.