If you don’t have kids with food allergies, you’re probably not thinking too much about being allergy-safe at Halloween. But there are a few easy things you can do to help make the celebration safer and more inclusive for the 300,000 Canadian kids with food allergies.
1. Buy candy that has an ingredient list on each piece If parents of a kid with food allergies can’t read what’s in the treat, they likely won’t let their kid eat it, explains Beatrice Povolo, marketing and communications director of Food Allergy Canada. While it’s great that many brands of Halloween candy are peanut-free (and marked by a peanut-free logo), for kids who are allergic to things like milk, eggs, tree nuts or wheat, it’s essential to have the ingredient list on hand.
2. Think outside the candy box Allergy or not, when kids already have a bag full of chocolate, it’s extra special to find a treat like a glow stick or a temporary tattoo, Povolo says. Fun things like Halloween-themed pencils, erasers, stickers or bouncy balls can be found in bulk at your local discount store or party store. Some parents choose mini Play Doh containers as a candy alternative, but keep in mind that Play Doh contains wheat, meaning kids who are gluten-free (like kids with celiac disease) generally can't play with it. It gets stuck under the finger nails and can end up in the mouth.
3. Have a new response to “trick or treat” “Ask if anyone has food allergies every time a trick-or-treater comes to your door,” Povolo recommends. If the answer is yes, you can give the group your non-food treats, or ask the parent to choose what might be safe out of your assortment.
4. Paint a pumpkin teal Participate in the growing Teal Pumpkin Project by placing a teal-painted pumpkin in front of your home. This lets your neighbours know that you have allergy-friendly treats on hand.
5. Don’t snack on the go Remind kids not to gobble up their goodies until they get home. Parents of kids with food allergies will want to check the labels before their kids eat anything, and kids who are normally careful with their allergy may let their guard down when they are caught up in the excitement.
6. Not sharing is a good thing When your kids bring their treats to school in the days following Halloween, remind them not to share or trade with others.