For most of us, the spookiest parts of Halloween are ghoulish costumes and horror movies – OK, and maybe dealing with our kids’ sugar highs! But for the 15 million Americans with food allergies, things can get much scarier.
Q. How can I keep Halloween Fun for Guests with Food Allergies?
By Mary Parsons, MS, RD
With the wide assortment of treats getting passed around at school, at parties and on trick-or-treating night, it can be hard to be safe and still have fun like everyone else. Accommodating allergic guests can be intimidating for people who don’t normally have to consider those details, but just a little special attention can help make it a fun night for all.
First, make sure that you’re familiar with the eight major food allergens. These eight foods make up more than 90% of all food allergies, and although some allergens apply to certain Halloween treats more than others, the full list includes eggs, fish, shellfish, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts. On packaged foods, the Allergen Statement located near the nutrition facts panel will call out the presence of any such ingredients. For homemade treats or a party buffet, you can do your guests a favor by clearly marking the major allergens in each item.
With the widespread use of nuts, milk, soy and wheat, as well as the complication of shared processing equipment, candy can be tricky business when dealing with food allergies. It’s worth mentioning again that to ensure allergen-free candy, it’s essential to check the ingredient list every time. But as a starting point, the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board offers a helpful resource by annually publishing a list of best choice Halloween candies for avoiding allergens
. You may also want to offer small toys as an alternative to candy, like glow sticks, temporary tattoos, or fun jewelry.
If you’re chaperoning trick-or-treaters with food allergies, you have a new tradition to get excited about: the Teal Pumpkin Project
. Food Allergy Research & Education is promoting this movement for the first time this year, in which households are encouraged to advertise their allergen-safe, non-food treats by displaying a festive teal-colored pumpkin. It’s simple to participate, so spread the word to support a safe Halloween for all!
How are you making Halloween a treat even with food allergy concerns? Remember to get your candy-rich Halloween started right with a dietitian recommended Healthy Dining or Kids LiveWell menu choice like these that include high quality ingredients like lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables: