Halloween time is a season of costumes, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, and delicious candy. With food often being the foundation of our holiday celebrations, Halloween is a time that can often create more fear that fun with some of the top food allergens being in high circulation.
The Most popular Halloween candies contain one of the 6 most common allergens-milk, soy, wheat, egg, peanuts, and tree nuts. While some living with food allergies experience mild symptoms such as itchy/red skin or stomach cramps when consuming foods in which they are allergic, others can undergo a more life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis with just a single bite of food.
For those with severe food allergies, some anaphylactic reactions may require an immediate trip to the emergency room. Anaphylaxis symptoms typically occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. In other situations, reactions may not occur until an hour or more after exposure.
- A weak and rapid pulse
- Dizziness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increasing body temperature
- Constriction of the airways
- Swollen tongue or throat, which can cause wheezing and difficulty breathing
- Skin reactions, including hives, rash, and itching
Tips to Make Your Halloween Allergy Friendly
In addition to having a good ol’ fashioned talk with kids about the importance of safety prior to trick-or-treating and other Halloween festivities, parents of children with food allergies can take the following steps to ensure they have an allergen-free Halloween:
- Food allergy medical ID- wearing their medical ID 24/7 allows food allergies to be made known immediately in an emergency situation when you cannot be there.
- Look for teal pumpkins- was established by Food Allergy Research & Education to raise awareness of food allergies and provide safe options for food allergic trick-or-treaters. Those in the community who choose to display teal pumpkins outside their door, indicate they have safe, non-food treats available.
- Talk to your neighbors- neighbors and friends may want to have allergen-free candy available but aren’t sure what to buy. In addition, many neighbors may not even realize your kid has a food allergy. Talk to those in your surrounding area where your trick-or-treater is going to offer different “safe” treat options to provide.
- Talk to other parents- If your younger children are planning to attend a Halloween party, ensure the parents hosting are aware of their food-allergens. Have your food-allergy kids eat prior to attending festivities in the event there are no safe food options available to them.
- Talk to teachers- If your child’s class has a Halloween celebration, take initiative in talking to their teacher(s) beforehand, volunteer to help organize and chaperone the party, offer to bring the treats or non-food goodies.
- Ensure your child’s emergency health record and epinephrine pens (epi pens) are up-to-date- before leaving the home, double check they have their epi pen and MedicAlert medical ID which connects to their current health information.
- Instill the “Better Safe than Sorry” Rule- remind your child to always ask what ingredients are in foods before eating anything homemade by others. Remind them not to open any candy until they have returned home and you have sorted and read labels thoroughly.