Every 3 minutes.
Someone is hospitalized with a food allergy reaction every three minutes in the U.S, resulting in over 200,000 emergency visits annually. Many of those who suffer are children, and Halloween candy and treats are quick to trigger reactions. The Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee, or FACET, has advice to help your family plan for a fun and safe Halloween:
Planning is important. Experts agree that proper planning will help your child avoid allergens and remain vigilant during holiday activities.
Go food-free by bringing the party to your house or another safe location. Create a controlled environment by inviting your child's friends over and set up trick-or-treat stations with non-food items/treats.
Do not accept or eat any homemade treats or food items that are not prepackaged with an ingredient label. Inspect all packaging and throw away any treat that has been tampered with or opened – when in doubt, throw it out!
Give ALL food labels a second (or third) look. Read labels and/or call the manufacturer to avoid allergens and cross contact with allergens that can trigger reactions. Please know that many small candies, or “fun” sizes, have different ingredients than their full-size counterparts.
Check non-food labels on items such as costumes, masks and face paint for allergens. Ingredients like latex, wheat, milk or soy are often hidden in these items.
Host a candy-swap to let your children swap candy with others for allergen-free treats. This is also known as a Trade or Treat!
Be prepared! Always carry 2 epinephrine auto-injectors, your child’s allergy action plan and a cellular phone to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
Depending on your family’s comfort level toward traditional trick or treating in the neighborhood and other Halloween activities, this holiday may be an enjoyable experience as long as the proper steps are taken to avoid a potential reaction and remain safe.
FACET would like to encourage allergy-aware homes to paint
a pumpkin teal as a signal that there are non-food treat
options available to be passed out to children.
No tricks, just treats this Halloween!
Trick or Treat ... then Trade AND Treat!
Halloween is a great time to talk to your children about food allergy safety and reaction prevention. We recommend that parents make this time a learning experience by discussing the importance of reading labels and avoiding allergens to stay healthy. For example, young readers and older children alike may enjoy earning a coin or small safe treat for correctly pointing out the allergen listed in each ingredient list. Be creative - and let FACET know what your child learned!
Introduce your young children to the concept of the Switch Witch, Great Pumpkin or FACET’s Gobbling Goblin. These fun characters are on the prowl on Halloween night to make sure that unsafe candy is swapped with safe treats (candy, money, toy, etc) for children with food allergies. Parents, your child will leave the candy on the porch or next to a teal pumpkin ... and "magically," a safe prize will be in its place the next morning. The unsafe candy may then be donated to military organizations or taken to a local dentist participating in a buy-back program.
Reading is fun.
There are many children's books related to food allergy safety on Halloween.
An absolute favorite of FACET's Lil Champs is Trade-or-Treat Halloween by our pals at The No Biggie Bunch! Order your copy here.