October 19, 2021
Allergy Tips for Halloween
Halloween is upon us! Time for planning parties, creating the best ever costume and stockpiling treats and goodies. But what if you are a parent of a child with food allergies? Halloween can be frightening, indeed.
Wheat, eggs, milk, and soy are used for processing many chocolate, caramel and fruit candies. Then consider all the types of goodies containing tree nuts and their residue on equipment used to create it all. Small amounts of these allergens can cause serious reaction in children who are allergic to them.
Here are some tips to ensure your child has a safe allergen–free Halloween.
Talk to your kids about potential allergens hidden in their Halloween treats. If your child is attending a party or trick-or-treating with a group without you, go over strategies to deal with a potential allergic reaction and make sure a responsible adult is attending and is aware of your child’s allergies.
Together with your child, read the label of ingredients. This is important for all candies, and especially so for snack size and miniatures. These are sometimes processed at a different facility than regular size candy.
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that all FDA-regulated foods, list sources of the top eight major allergens in the ingredients list with common names of the allergen included in parentheses — such as “lecithin (soy)” or “whey (milk).” Labels can be confusing. Stay cautious and always read the ingredients list before letting your kids indulge in their treats.
Friends and neighbors may want to provide allergen-free candy for your child, but don’t know what to buy. Reach out to them before they begin stocking the candy bowl. Let them know what treats to look for or even provide them with allergen-free candy which they can hand out to your little trick-or-treater.
Follow the Teal Pumpkins
The Teal Pumpkin Project attempts to raise awareness of food allergies for trick-or-treaters by providing ideas and options for safe, non-food treats. To join up with the project simply pledge to place a teal-colored pumpkin outside your home. This indicates a safe non-food treat is available.
If you have young children, consider carrying the candy loot for them and remind all other children not to share theirs. Teach your young kids to always ask first before eating anything. If older children bring home a treat with no label, or is homemade or you are in doubt, throw it out.
Trade It In or Give It Away
Before the big night begins, talk with your child about a plan to swap out any unsafe candy for a different treat. This can be allergen-free candy, or even a book or small toy. Donate the unwanted candy to a local food pantry or other charity.
Why not start a new tradition? Host a costume party at home and really stay on top of frightening food. You may consider forgoing the candy idea altogether and offer treats of a non-food origin.
Stickers, glow sticks, bouncy balls or creepy plastic insects are a few items that come to mind. Discount-store toy aisles abound with ideas that can replace the traditional Halloween sweets.
Allergy Tips for Halloween As Always…
Don’t keep your child’s food allergy a mystery and your friends and neighbors in the dark. Tell others about your child’s food allergies. Make sure they know how to deal with a severe allergic reaction.
Explain the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Also, ask your allergist to provide an emergency plan for your child.
Finally, don’t let your child trick-or-treat alone and make certain they have an epinephrine auto-injector. Even if epinephrine is administered right away and anaphylaxis symptoms seem to stop, always take your child to the emergency room. Halloween can be a fun tradition your child’s life. Food allergies don’t have to overshadow the fun of dressing up and sharing the chills and spooks with their friends and family. As always, careful planning ahead of time can ensure a happy Halloween time for everyone.