By Mary Parsons, MS, RD
Question: How can I keep Halloween Fun for Guests with Food Allergies?
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, Spokin offers a helpful resource by publishing a list of peanut and tree nut free brands. 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?