Halloween may be the spookiest holiday of the year, but it can be particularly scary for food allergy patients and their families. Children with food allergies can have reactions to foods by accidental ingestion or contact. Use of hand washing (hand sanitizing does not remove contact allergens), following contact with unknown foods is good practice. Keep in mind, 8 percent of children (1 in 13 in every classroom) under 18 have at least one food allergy.
There are still plenty of great ways to safely trick-or-treat that will help you and your child feel comfortable such as, carrying safe treats with you and trading them out for questionable treats, trading your child .5 or .10 for every piece of candy that is unsafe, providing your neighbors with safe candy in advance to hand out to your child.
The Food Allergy Research & Education organization (FARE) is asking families to celebrate Halloween and create awareness about food allergies by going “teal.” What does that mean? The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to paint a pumpkin teal which demonstrates to trick-or-treaters that you are a “safe” stop on their Halloween adventure. Your teal pumpkin lets families know that you will be handing out non-food items.
Dr. Jeffrey J. Dietrich, board certified allergist, states that FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project is “nice for families with food allergies to have a way for their kids to safely enjoy trick-or-treating. It means a lot to those parents to see others who don’t have food allergy issues show their support and participate.”
Great ideas for safe, non-candy treats are pencils, erasers, stickers, glow sticks, Halloween themed toys like plastic eyeballs, spider rings and vampire fangs. Great places to purchase Halloween themed toys are the Dollar Store, Michael’s, orientaltrading.com, Target or Wal-Mart.
If you feel like trick-or-treating is just not an option, there are still fun things to do that are Halloween related. Gather your children and their friends and watch age appropriate Halloween movies, have a Halloween/Costume party and offer only safe treats, or organize a scavenger hunt.
For school parties, offer to volunteer so you can monitor the event and make sure safe treats are available. Offer to make homemade treats that you know are safe and are your child’s favorite. Suggest crafts and games, such as witches’ hat ring toss, paint a pumpkin, or make a bat mobile.
Above anything, make sure that you have your child’s emergency medicines with you at all times!