5 Tips to help Parents with Food Allergies at Halloween
Halloween is fast approaching and with it comes the long-lived tradition of trick-or-treating which is typically a fun-filled and joyous experience for most children. However, children with food allergies are often left out of the fun because Halloween treats can have hidden allergens or trace amounts of allergens in them that can cause, Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. As such, before trick-or-treating begins, parents should speak with their children in order to reinforce what they already know about food allergens and, most importantly, remind them of what to do if they realize that they are having an allergic reaction. In order to ensure an allergen-free Halloween please consider these tips.
- Read Food Labels: Play it safe and read the ingredients list for all of the candy that your children collect even if you consider the product “safe.” Importantly, all FDA-regulated foods are required to list the top eight major allergens in their ingredients list. Please remember that most bite-size candies typically do not contain an allergens list but you should be able to look up specific product ingredients online. If a product does not contain a label please throw it away.
- Offer Non-Food Treats: Small toys, pencils and glow sticks are examples of non-food allergen safe options for food allergic children.
- Speak With Your Neighbors: Discuss your child’s food allergy with your neighbors and offer to provide your neighbors with allergen-safe candy to provide to your trick-or-treater.
- Donate Your Candy: Prior to trick-or-treating, make a plan to donate your candy to a local food pantry, children’s hospital or other charitable organization.
- Start a New Tradition: Host a Halloween costume party at your house. You can do all sorts of fun stuff like watch a scary movie or enjoy a scary scavenger hunt but what is most important is that you control the treats.
Also, please look for Teal Pumpkins this Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project was created by FARE as a campaign to raise awareness of food allergies and to provide safe options for food allergic trick-or-treaters. Participants agree to put a teal pumpkin outside of their homes indicating that they have safe, non-food treats for your children.
Heather Finn is the author of the Bug Book series of children’s picture books. She was inspired to write her first Bug Book, Fabulous Farrah & the Sugar Bugs, while searching for fun, educational books to teach her children about good health and hygiene. However, she quickly realized that good books are hard to find so she began to write her own. Heather lives with her husband and two children in Marblehead, Massachusetts. www.littleharborbooks.com