For children with food allergies, trick-or-treating can be a truly frightening activity–and not just because of all the little ghouls and goblins roaming the neighborhood on Halloween. Many popular Halloween candies contain one or more of the top 8 allergens (such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, wheat, and more). If kids who are allergic to these ingredients come into contact with them while trick-or-treating, it can have dangerous consequences. For example, depending on the severity of the allergy, if a child with a peanut allergy comes into contact with a candy bar that contains peanuts, it could be life-threatening.
It can be daunting and stressful for families to review the ingredients of every piece of Halloween candy a child comes home with to ensure that the candy is safe for them to consume—and in some cases (for example, in the case of a peanut allergy), misreading the label can have life-threatening consequences for the child.
To make things easier for families that include children with food allergies, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is urging people to participate in an endeavor that helps safely accommodate these children. The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to also provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and to put a teal pumpkin outside your door to indicate that these types of treats are available at your home.
Want to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project? Here’s how to get started:
Take the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge! Last year families in all 50 states supported this initiative by providing some non-food treats on Halloween in support of the Teal Pumpkin Project. Join the fun this year–click here to pledge your support!
Purchase some inexpensive non-food items that kids will enjoy, such as:
- Mini notebooks or small coloring books
- Pencils or mini crayon packs
- Cute erasers or pencil toppers
- Plastic noisemakers like kazoos or whistles
- Toys like mini Slinkys, mini Koosh-style balls, plastic animal figurines, or toy soldiers
- Halloween items like spider rings or plastic bugs
- Sets of mini playing cards
- Glow sticks or glow bracelets/necklaces
- Friendship bracelets or plastic rings
- Small puzzles, mini word search or activity books, or brain teaser games
You can find these types of items at your local dollar store, mass market retailer, or party supply store.
Paint a pumpkin teal (the color of food allergy awareness) and place it outside your door on Halloween, before trick-or-treaters arrive. No time to paint a pumpkin? No worries! Just print a free printable sign from FARE and hang it outside your door.
Keep the non-food items separate from any food you’re handing out. Put non-food items in a separate bowl from candy or other edible treats.
Ask trick-or-treaters if they have any food allergies. If so, offer them the bowl of non-food treats so they can pick something safe and fun!
And don’t worry—if you participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can still hand out candy to any trick-or-treaters who are able to have it! Just remember to keep your non-food items separate from your edible treats, and you should be able to accommodate everyone who comes to your door on Halloween.
From all of us at Health Advocate, we hope you and your family have a safe and fun Halloween!