So, I know I've been rattling on about how you need to assume your reader reads quite literally and should watch your grammar. Well, today I went grocery shopping, and I bought something that made my pedantic little heart go pitter-pat!
What I bought was a package of spicy nori strips (which were made by Sound Sea Vegetables and quite tasty). I was reading the back of the package as I was noshing down the nori (Noshing the Nori is the title of my food-themed erotic novel), and I saw my favorite kind of grammatical error--the kind that screws up a warning!
Here's the text:
Please note that this selected nori requires care to keep its crisp texture and flavor at its peak. It has been packed with a moisture absorbent, which is not to be eaten, and is best kept away from children.
The first sentence is a bit of a puzzler ("selected nori"? and I'd give the latter half some parallel construction) but not too bad for marketing copy, which often throws in fancy-sounding words like "selected" and "artisinal" whether or not they make any sense. The second sentence, however, really suffers from that extra comma.
Two commas around the phrase "which is not to be eaten" means it's a parenthetical phrase. So, let's replace those commas with parentheses:
Please note that this selected nori requires care to keep its crisp texture and flavor at its peak. It has been packed with a moisture absorbent (which is not to be eaten) and is best kept away from children.
Oh-ho! So the phrase "is best kept away from children" does not apply to the moisture absorbent. Instead, it refers to the pronoun that begins the sentence, "It," which in turn refers to...the nori itself!
A bit shocking to be selling a snack food that should be kept away from children, no? Especially since the package also describes the nori as "a very popular snack food with children"!