Halloween is an exciting time of the year especially for kids filling their bags with candy and other treats. It can also be a stressful time for parents and caregivers of children with food allergies. Thinking about the potential risk of a reaction to a candy can impact the quality of life for the entire family. Experts, parents and food allergy advocates agree that Halloween should be a fun and healthful event for everyone, every child and every family.
According to FAACT, “peanuts, tree nuts, and milk are all common ingredients in Halloween candies and there is no cure for food allergies. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid trigger foods.”
It’s important to know that “life-threatening food allergies impact more than 15 million Americans; that’s approximately 6 million children – 2 children in every classroom” across the U.S. Whether you’re a parent of a child with a food allergy, or the neighbor down the street giving out treats, here are a few tips from the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) you might consider this Halloween to help reduce the risk of an unwanted reaction:
- Always have medication on hand like epinephrine in the case of an accidental ingestion of an offending food. It’s good practice at Halloween or any other event where food is being shared among children.
- Read every label of every product in your child’s candy bag. Quite often different sizes may be labeled differently from their regular sized counterparts.
- Enforce a “no eating while trick or treating” rule with your child and their friends and read the labels before they have a chance to experiment without supervision.
- Consider a few safe treats just in case your child might be tempted to have just one piece before getting home.
- When sorting through your child’s bag, use the opportunity to teach them about reading labels and to look for specific ingredients on the ingredient list.
You might consider giving out non-food treats or trinkets instead of treats that may contain an offending allergen. Non-food treats can include items like bubbles and bouncy balls.
Eleanor Garrow-Holding, president and CEO of the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) said, “It doesn’t have to always be about the treats when there are plenty of non-food fun tricks…that are filled with fun – not fear for children’s health.”
Halloween is just one time of the year to learn about food allergies, but allergen awareness is critical to protecting the health of those who live with food allergies every day. Look for the FARE teal pumpkin and the FAACT teal ghost when you pick up Halloween treats at the store. Share them with your family and friends to help raise awareness about food allergies. Keep the emphasis on the fun rather than the candy and enjoy your Halloween.