NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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October 31: Safe or Scary?

October 31:  Safe or Scary?


Two of the many things that I am always grateful for are that everyone in my family is free of food allergies/sensitivities, and that we all like and enjoy many different foods that are actually “good,” healthy, and nutritious for us.  (Think veggies!)

Considering that 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy, the fact that we don’t have any in our family is something to appreciate!

Trick or treat season can be challenging and potentially risky for people who do have food allergies because of these three reasons:

  • Trick or treat candy often has one or more of the common food allergens such as wheat, milk, soy, egg, peanuts, and tree nuts. 
  • Manufacturers can change ingredients and use different facilities when they make candy in bigger or smaller sizes than regular size candy, so candy that is safe (allergen-free) in its regular size may not be safe when it is a different size.
  • The ingredient list is usually not included on the wrapper of small candy, so it is difficult for the consumer to know what is in it and whether or not it is safe for them to eat if they have food allergies or sensitivities. 

In response to these challenges, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin Project to provide safe trick-or-treating options for children with food allergies.

One suggestion is to give non-food treats such as glow sticks, fake mustaches, bubbles, and bouncy balls. FARE also encourages all families to sign a pledge to celebrate safely and display a teal pumpkin to signal that you have safe alternatives for trick-or-treating.

Establishing a few new traditions can help your child avoid feelings of frustration and disappointment during the trick or treat season.  For example:

  • Candy Swap: After identifying unsafe candy, have your child trade in the candy they can’t eat for candy that is safe.
  • Candy Exchange: Give your child the option to turn in unsafe candy for something else, like a book or a toy.
  • Candy Donation: Donate the candy to a good cause. Many dentists and organizations accept donations or may offer a “buy-back” program.

With some creativity, thoughtfulness, and planning, everyone can have fun, including the children who have food allergies.

Source:  Laura Stanton, “Food Allergies and Halloween Can Be a Scary Combination,” Ohio State University Extension

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/vectors/wheat-gluten-allergy-food-allergen-995055/ (downloaded 10/13/20)

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