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5 Tips for a Safe Halloween When Your Child Has Food Allergies

Discover ways to make Halloween fun and safe for everyone.
Photo: Shutterstock

Halloween can be one of the riskiest times of the year for children and adults with food allergies. Six of the top allergens are frequently found in Halloween candy and treats. In addition to peanuts and tree nuts, other allergens such as wheat, milk, soy, and even egg are used in many chocolates, caramels, and fruit chews. Some candies are also made with, or processed on, the same equipment as peanuts and tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews. In some cases, even trace amounts of these ingredients can cause anaphylactic reactions.

“Parents should talk with their children about the allergens that can be found in specific foods, especially in Halloween candy and treat bags,” says Nicole Mazer, M.D., an allergist and immunologist for ENT and Allergy Associates. “Talk to your children and come up with a plan for when they are attending parties and trick-or-treating with other friends, including what to do if they think they are having an allergic reaction. Always make sure that responsible adults are at any party and talk with them to make sure they are aware of the child’s allergies.”

Below are five tips to ensure your Halloween is a fun and safe occasion for everyone.

  1. Always read the ingredients list. If the ingredients aren’t listed, arrange for a treat exchange with classmates or friends. Also, fun size or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.
  2. Make sure your child always asks first. Remind children not to share food and to ask you before eating anything. Kids should learn to always read the label before eating any packaged food or candy. If in doubt, trade it, give it away, or throw it out. Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies and to never taste or share another child’s food.
  3. Be on the lookout for Teal Pumpkins. The Teal Pumpkin Project was created by Food Allergy Research & Education in 2014 to raise awareness of food allergies and provide safe options for food-allergic trick-or-treaters. Participants who decorate the outside of their homes with teal-colored pumpkins pledge to have safe, non-food treats available.
  4. Inform teachers and class parents. If your child’s class celebrates Halloween, speak to all your child’s teachers and class parents in advance. You can also have additional control if you volunteer to organize the party, offer to bring the treats or non-food goodies, or plan to attend in person. At the start of every school year, you will also want to double-check that your child’s epinephrine pens and emergency action plan are still current and not out-of-date.
  5. Plan alternatives to trick-or-treating by playing a Halloween-themed game or by watching an age-appropriate scary movie together. You can also plan a Halloween party that focuses on fun activities, such as costume parades, pumpkin decorating contests, Halloween-themed crafts, or scavenger hunts.
About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.