Once October 1st hits, most children start counting down the days until Halloween. In fact, nearly two-thirds of American children say that Halloween is their favorite holiday. While Halloween means dressing up in costumes and chowing down on sugary treats for most children, it can be a little more complicated for the almost 6 million American children with food allergies.
These children and their families need to be aware of the dangers of hidden allergens in Halloween candy. While some children might only experience minor reactions to allergens in Halloween treats, others are at risk for the life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Some candy might seem safe (such as lollipops or hard candies), but it may have been processed in a facility that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and other common allergens. If the same equipment is used to process different products the candy can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergens. It’s critically important for parents to teach children how to read candy labels. Also, parents and children should be aware that allergy statements on different sizes of candy bars can be different, even if they are the same type of candy.
Navigating food allergies on Halloween can seem daunting, but it’s possible to have a safe, allergy-friendly celebration without too much stress. At Hudson Allergy we’ve previously shared information about peanut allergies and staying safe on Halloween. Download our infographic “Peanut Allergies: What You Need to Know About Halloween Candy” to prepare your family for Halloween.
Families that want to ensure a safe, happy Halloween can follow these tips:
- Skip the candy. Instead of trick-or-treating, suggest other Halloween activities, such as haunted houses, spooky movie marathons, or Halloween-themed exhibits at theme parks and museums. You can end the night with allergy-friendly snacks or toys.
- Play host. Invite friends and family over to your house for a Halloween celebration. By hosting the party you can be in charge of preparing safe treats.
- Support the Teal Pumpkin Project. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to display a teal-painted pumpkin at their door if they are offering non-food toys and treats that are safe for children with food allergies. You can visit these houses when trick-or-treating and also display a teal pumpkin at your own home.
- Supervise your child while trick-or-treating. Identify what your child is allergic to and set rules for how your child should handle the candy they receive. Children shouldn’t eat any candy until they get home and it is checked by a parent, no matter how tempting it may be. Bring along allergy-friendly snacks for your child to eat if they get hungry while trick-or-treating. Once at home, sort through the candy and remove anything that contains allergens. (You can also use The Switch Witch to swap candy for safer treats.)
If you believe you have food allergies or have questions about resources available to people with allergies, give us a call. Or, if you are looking for an allergist, we’d love to meet you. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.