As young teenagers, my sister and I would always start planning Halloween early. With the help of my mom, we would decorate the house, prepare our costumes, and treats of course. But things have changed. Now, if you are like a busy adult like me, chances are you are late and thinking of just winging it. However, in order to be inclusive, Halloween trick-or-treaters with food allergies require a bit more planning than that.
The good news is, they can be accommodated even at the last minute. Here is what you can do!
Wait! Do kids with life-threatening food allergies actually trick‑or‑treat?
Yes, they do. They wear their Halloween costumes, and they go out trick‑or‑treating with their parents, siblings, and friends. The problem is that they are often not included in the whole planning process. By this I means that, when they knock on your doors, your store-bought candies don’t usually take into account the most common allergens. Consequently, Halloween is dangerous for these children and a high source of stress for their parents.
What are the most common allergens?
Common allergens, also known as the TOP 8 allergens, include:
egg, fish, milk (dairy), peanut, tree nut, shellfish, soy, wheat.
To this list, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has added on their website sesame allergy and gluten intolerance. (Yes, apparently, there is no such thing as gluten allergy, but that is for another post!).
Usually, when we buy candies, we don’t think of checking the labels. That is unless we ourselves suffer or someone close to us suffers from food allergies. After all, sugar is sugar, right? Well, no… Sugar comes blended with tons of different ingredients, and usually these include milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat. And in cases when their recipes are free of most allergens, they might however be processed on a plant that is in contact with allergens.
I get it! I suffer from food allergies, and I remember how overwhelming it was at the beginning. So, if you don’t have any food allergy or intolerance, or even some food restriction, it can sound way too complicated.
So what should you do to get ready for Halloween trick-or-treaters with food allergies?
If you don’t want any kid to be left out on Halloween, you have 3 options:
- Go with allergy-friendly Halloween candies (TOP 8 free)
- Go with non-food treats
- or both!
If you picked option #1 – TOP 8 Allergen Free Candies
Here is a list of common allergy-friendly candies to avoid the danger of anaphylaxis on Halloween. (Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction – check out this link for more information).
The best part is that you can find them last minute at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
- Skittles Original
- Starburst Original
- Dum Dum Lollipops
- Smarties (the one pictured! not the chocolate ones!)
Some children might be allergic to corn. If asked by parents or trick-or-treaters, make sure you to let them know that your treats are only free of the most common allergens. The best and safest way would be to print a little sign that says: “TOP 8 Allergen Free Candies”.
If you picked option #2 – No-food treats
Option #2 is what the Teal Pumpkin Project advocates to keep all Halloween trick-or-treaters with food allergies safe.
Have you ever wondered: What’s up with the teal pumpkins? or How do teal pumpkins work?
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a nationwide movement (throughout the US) and encourages people to raise awareness about food allergies and include food allergy sufferers in Halloween activities. The steps are fairly simple:
- Buy some non-food treats (stamps, stickers, crayons, mini toys). If you have time, be creative. But again, if you are doing this at the last minute, there are plenty of options at the Dollar Store.
- Place a teal pumpkin in front of your house or apartment door. Here again, you can paint an edible pumpkin blue or you can buy one on Amazon, or even at Target. They even sell ones that you can carve!
- Ideally, go on the FARE website and add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Map. It just takes a minute, and parents of allergy sufferers will know where to take their children trick-or-treating safely.
- Spread the word! Let your neighbors know. Just telling one person can make
You can find all the information you need, and more, on the FARE website.
If you picked option #3 – Both
You are awesome! Just make sure to keep your candies and non-food treats in separate bowls.
If you like this post, you might also be interested in 10 Tips for Traveling with Food Allergies.
Also, if you have any question or comment, don’t hesitate on commenting below or contact me privately.