It’s almost Halloween! Soon those little goblins and ghoulies will come knocking on your door, seeking treats! Oh delicious, delicious treats!
For millions of American children there is more to be afraid of than just ghosts and wicked witches. 1 in every 13 kids has food allergies, and for them, those Halloween treats can be deadly!
Even before Avery was born, I tried my best to ensure that the treats kids got from our house would be safe for all to enjoy. We get well over 200 trick-or-treaters….the odds are great that many of those kiddos have food allergies. We have a handful of friends whose kids have severe reactions to things like tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, wheat, dairy and soy and now, having a child of my own who has allergies I am even more conscious of what we are handing out.
Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction. These ingredients are found in MANY candies and snacks, and even if they aren’t in the ingredients many products are made in large facilities that make multiple items, so the chance of cross-contamination is pretty high. If you’re handing out candy this year, you may want to look for products that state they are free from the most common allergens.
Another (even healthier) option is to avoid candy all together and hand out other items. This is what the Teal Pumpkin Project is all about!
This Halloween, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is encouraging families to paint a pumpkin teal and place it on their porch! This will act as a sign to other families managing food allergies that that house has non-food treats available! This will also help raise awareness in the neighborhood about food allergies!
FARE has created a sign that you can post on your door, to let everyone know that you have non-food treats available, and explain what the teal pumpkin stands for! You can find that poster HERE
Check out the cute image below for non-food treat ideas!
You can learn more about The Teal Pumpkin Project here: http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project
Now, remember, not every home will be handing out allergen free treats. As a parent of a child with food allergies, it is on you to be diligent, and keep your child safe!!
CHECK EVERY LABEL, EVERY TIME!!
Here are some great tips from FARE for a safe trick-or-treating experience:
- Stock up on safe treats or inexpensive trinkets/toys to trade for any unsafe candies your child might receive while trick-or-treating. You can also use sorting through your child’s candy as an opportunity to teach him or her about hidden allergens and reading labels.
- Enforce a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule, so that you have time to review all food labels.
- Avoid candy and treats that do not have an ingredient label.
- Always have an epinephrine auto-injector available, if prescribed.
- Keep in mind that the mini-size, fun-size, or bite-size version of candy may contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts. Make no assumptions, and read all labels carefully.
- Keep the emphasis on the fun, rather than the candy.
- Consider starting a tradition by allowing their kids to leave their unsafe candies out for the “Good Witch” to collect and leave behind small gifts and safe treats.
- Consider making small and safe “goody bags” for neighbors to give to your child. Deliver the bags in advance and describe your child’s costume to your neighbors. Encourage your child to trick-or-treat at the houses in which you’ve delivered the bags.
- Consider skipping trick-or-treating, and have a Halloween party instead, featuring safe and delicious treats. Or, skip the treats altogether by replacing them with other fun Halloween toys, games, or party favors.
- Remember that a candy that has been safe for your child in the past may now have different ingredients. Read the label, every time.
Stay safe and have a wonderful Halloween!!