Some treats are just plain tricky for families living with food allergies. With trick-or-treating just around the corner, parents are on the lookout for sweet treats that can trigger food allergies in their children.
Families will always love Halloween. To ensure that treats are safe for all kids, the U.S. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has launched a new Halloween tradition called the Teal Pumpkin Project. This new tradition encourages families to give out non-food treats to children trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In order to distinguish their porches from the rest, families are encouraged to paint their Halloween pumpkins a teal color.
The United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service study found that an average American child eats 49 pounds of sugar annually. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control revealed a staggering 50 percent increase in food allergies in children between 1997 and 2011. These data make trick-or-treating tricky for children whose food allergies can send them to the hospital.
Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital Tracy Fausnight said the top food allergies in children are peanuts, eggs and milk. Individually-wrapped treats are efficient in lowering the risk of cross-contamination. However, warning labels that says the candy was packed in the same facility where raw ingredients containing food allergens are also manufactured bear little implication in the safety of a product.
"The companies put it on mostly to protect themselves, but you just don't know. The most conservative approach for children with food allergies is to avoid foods marked with cross-contamination labeling," said Fausnight, who works as the hospital's immunologist and pediatric allergist.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is also a way to raise awareness about the rising food allergy statistics in children and the dangers that lurk in the traditional trick-or treat candies. Kids with milk allergies cannot eat most of the chocolates sold in stores. Nougats and taffy treats can trigger allergies among children allergic to eggs. Older children can distinguish the candy bars they are allergic to and can easily swap. But the danger remains relatively high among children who go trick-or-treating alone. The Teal Pumpkin Project can give kids across all age groups to join trick-or-treat activities, regardless of food allergies.
Here are examples of alternative Halloween treats you can give during trick-or-treat.
- Party Bubbles
- Stickers and Temporary Tattoos
- Toy Slimes and Playdough
- Halloween-Inspired School Items
- Bouncy Balls
- Halloween Coloring and Activity Books
- Fake Vampire Fangs
- Friendship Bracelets
Participants are invited to take the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge. The project hopes the tradition will last for years so all children will know that come Halloween, children can leave their food allergy worries behind and that knocking on the door with a teal pumpkin on the porch means they will get treats they can appreciate.
Photo: Personal Creations | Flickr