Cue the cat ears and teal jack-o-lanterns- Halloween is among us! Coming in at the top of the holiday season, Halloween is a fun time to gather with friends and family to celebrate all things creepy, crawly, and, dare we say, spooky. However, with food-filled activities such as Halloween parties and trick-or-treating, Halloween can seem a tad eerie for those with food allergies or their caregivers. With the right tools and careful pre-planning, your family can Make Every Moment Count and have an allergy-friendly Halloween.
From trick-or-treating to holiday parties, candy is a typical Halloween staple. However, for those who are allergic to some of the top food allergens such as milk, peanuts, eggs, and tree nuts, finding safe candy can be a difficult task. In fact, A 2020 Canadian study found an 85% increase in anaphylaxis cases during holidays such as Halloween. Some tips to avoid reactions include:
Reading ALL labels
It is important to read the labels of ALL candy, as differently sized (mini or fun-sized) candies may contain different ingredients than their regular or king-size counterparts- even with some of your “safe” go-to's. Similarly, as mentioned in a post by Kids with Food Allergies Foundation, repackaged candy (Ex. Variety Packs) can be manufactured in facilities with different ingredients, as well as by other manufacturers. Furthermore, treats like candy corn and nougat may contain ingredients such as egg whites, while chocolate may contain milk, tree nut, and peanut ingredients.
- Pro tip: Scan the label of the packaging with the Alerje Lifestyle Mobile App’s ingredient scanning feature, available for iPhone and Android.
When in doubt, or if you cannot read the label clearly, it’s best to throw it out.
Recently, there have been numerous up-and-coming Top-9 Free candies that have come into the market, as well as treats made in dedicated facilities such as Enjoy Life Foods, Free2b, NoWhey, and YumEarth. Many organizations within the food allergy community have curated lists of Halloween candy that may be considered safe for some food allergies, such as this 2021 list from Allergic Living.
A Food-Free Halloween
If candy seems like a no-go this year, consider food-free activities and treats. Food-free activities can include telling scary stories, watching your favorite childhood Halloween movies, or having a food-free costume party, while safe treats can include items such as toys, stickers, bracelets, glowsticks, “fangs,” and bubbles. GoDairyFree has a great list of “The Best Food-Free Halloween Treats Picked By Kids” for a food-free Halloween. These non-food treats can often be found in houses participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
- Teal representing food allergy awareness, a Teal Pumpkin signals an allergy-friendly household featuring safe, non-food treats for eager trick-or-treaters. Check out FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project, which provides a safe and inclusive Halloween experience for those with food allergies.
Making Every Moment Count
Although Halloween celebrates all things scary, celebrating any holiday with food allergies does not have to be. Remember to always read or scan labels using the Alerje Lifestyle App with your holiday treats this year, even with foods that may appear “safe” at first glance. You should also always have your epinephrine auto-injectors nearby. You can also consider allergy-friendly or food-free activities. However you celebrate, Make Every Moment Count this Halloween Season!