Working Towards An Allergy-Friendly Halloween? Brenna Wallace, RDN has some important tips for keeping your trick-or-treaters allergy-safe.
Halloween is here and it is the spookiest time of year! While kids are busy deciding what costume they want to wear, parents of children with food allergies begin to worry that trick-or-treating may bring them unforeseen fears. Most popular Halloween candies feature six of the eight top allergens; wheat, milk, soy, egg, tree nuts, and peanuts. Children may not realize the candy they are collecting could cause some serious fright. To enjoy the spooky season without any fears, make this Halloween allergy friendly by following these simple tips!
Many individually wrapped Halloween candies may be processed differently and in a different facility than their normal sized bars. To avoid potential cross-contamination, be sure to check the ingredient lists for commonly confused ingredients. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act ensures that all FDA-regulated foods label the top eight allergens by their common names in parentheses. This means an ingredient like whey would read “whey (milk)”. If an individually wrapped candy does not have an ingredient list, you can always look online to ensure that they are safe and allergen free.
When in doubt, throw it out.
If a product is homemade or has no label, it is best to throw it out rather than take the risk. Individually wrapped packages may not include typical claims such as “contains” or “may contain”, as these statements are voluntary. If you are not sure how the candy was processed or if it was processed in the same facility as another top allergen, you may want to play it safe and toss it aside.
Educate your little ghouls.
Be sure to teach your kids on what to look for on their candy packages and what is safe. Make them a list that they can reference when sorting out their candy! Encourage them to trade any potential allergen containing candy or swap it out with a safe alternative food or non-food treat. If your child’s school has Halloween parties, communicate your concerns with their teachers and be active in volunteering to promote bringing allergy-friendly treats or non-food treats.
Look for allergy-friendly candy.
If you don’t want to spend the time making an allergy-friendly Halloween recipe, there are several choices of popular candy and snack brands that are free from common allergens. Some allergy-friendly candy/snack brands you can pass out are: That’s it. Minis, Starbursts, Smarties, Dots, Skittles, Mike & Ike, Swedish Fish, Nerds, Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, Ring Pops, Surf Sweets, Enjoy Life, YumEarth, Wholesome, Boom Chicka Pop, Skinny Pop, Annie’s, and LifeSavers.
Choose non-food treats!
Besides choosing allergy-friendly treats to pass out, there are several non-food treats that make Halloween just as fun. Look for glow sticks, bracelets, Halloween themed pencils, crayons, or markers, stickers, bouncy balls, spider rings, and other trinkets!
What you can do to help. In 2014, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) started the Teal Pumpkin Project®. Teal is the color of food allergy awareness and by displaying a teal pumpkin outside your house, children and parents will know that you have non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. To learn more about FARE or how you can participate in theTeal Pumpkin Project®, click here.
Written By: Brenna Wallace, MS, RDN, LDN