Halloween can be the season of costumes, scary movies, and trick-or-treating. But for parents of kids with food allergies, it can be frightful. This beloved holiday raises concerns of the overwhelming presence of food that may contain peanuts, tree nuts, diary, and other allergens used in many chocolates, caramels, and fruit candies. Even more candies are made with or processed around peanuts and tree nuts. Even small traces of these allergens can cause an anaphylactic reaction.
Planning will ensure that children with food allergies enjoy all the fun of Halloween while reducing the risk of food allergies. We have compiled a few tips to consider for an allergen-free Halloween.
9 Ways to a Safe, Allergen-Free Halloween
Read the Ingredient Label. This is always good advice for all candy, but especially true for miniatures or snack sizes. Candy bars within the same brand can be produced in a different facility. To be sure the candy is safe for consumption, always read the ingredient label of every piece of candy before your child eats it.
Avoid No Label Products. If there is no label on the candy bar, then consider it unsafe. Take the precaution and do not let your child eat it. Throw it out.
Avoid Homemade Treats. It is only natural for parents of children with food allergies to feel comfortable with homemade snacks. Trace amounts of peanut butter from a sandwich made earlier using the same utensils to make the treat can cause life-threatening allergic reactions.
Talk to Your Neighbors. Neighbors and friends may want to buy allergen-free candy but don’t know what to buy or what ingredients your child has a food allergy to. Share with them in advance, including what “safe” candy options they can hand to your trick-or-treater.
Look for Teal Pumpkins. The Teal Pumpkin Project, created by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, is a campaign to raise awareness of food allergies. It provides safe options for allergic trick-or-treaters. Participants with a teal pumpkin outside their homes indicate they have safe, allergen-free treats available.
Talk to Your Child’s Teachers. If your child’s class celebrates Halloween, take an active role in reducing the risk of a food allergy reaction. Talk to the teachers in advance or volunteer to organize the party and offer to bring the treats or attend in person.
Carry Allergy Relief Medication. Make sure your child’s medicine is with your child or guardian, wherever he or she goes. Check that the responsible adult knows how to administer the medication, and provide a printed action plan with emergency contacts. Make sure your child’s emergency action plan and epinephrine pens are up to date.
Bring Hand Wipes. In any case of accidental contact with unsafe or allergen triggers, have your child carry some hand wipes to use.
Get Creative. Instead of trick-or-treating, bring the party to your home. Host a costume party at your house, so you are in charge of treats. For more out-of-the-box ideas, consider these alternative activities:
- Farms, zoos, museums, and schools may offer haunted houses, movie nights or other spooky activities fun for the family.
- Food-free Halloween party is a change. Book an art and crafts studio, bowling alley or gymnastics center. Have fun and bring your costumes!
- Keep the fun at home. Dress up, decorate your house and open the door for trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood.
- Stay in and enjoy Halloween treats with a spooky movie or two. For a fun food option, consider fruit and veggies. Present these foods in shapes of pumpkins or ghosts to bring in the Halloween spirit.
Common Safe and Allergen-Free Candies
Not sure which candies are allergen-free? Here are a few to consider and try this Halloween.
Gimbal’s candies are peanut-free, tree nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and egg-free. With 41 flavors of gourmet jellybeans, this treat is sure to satisfy and delight. Mini sampler packs are available with four different treats.
Premium Chocolatiers are suitable for children with allergies to milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and/or gluten. Their chocolates are dairy-free and nut-free, using a signature blend of roasted cocoa beans and cocoa butter with no shortenings or coatings. Each lactose-free, vegan chocolate is hand-crafted.
Spangler, parent company of Dum Dums Pops, is the maker of one of the most affordable options for allergen-free candies. Dum Dums Original Pops are peanut-free, tree nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, and gluten-free. Another Spangler choice is Saf-T-Pops. These pops do not contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat or gluten.
Schedule a Consultation
Ease your mind this Halloween with an allergen-free celebration with your family. If your child has food allergies, rest assured. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today for an expert consultation.