Halloween is almost every child’s favorite time of year; it’s a night filled with dress-up and treats overflowing from a seemingly bottomless container! Many kids go out with their friends in groups, hitting all the biggest houses to get the best haul. The majority of children that stop by your door this year won’t give a second thought to whatever popular candy you hand out.
Unfortunately, there will be a small percentage of little faces you see this year who have to be hyper-vigilant about what they pick out of the candy basket.
The “Big 8”
Children and adults can have reactions to a wide variety of allergens, and the reactions may range from mild to severe. Even children whose reactions are not life-threatening should avoid contact with their allergens – repeated exposure has been known to worsen attacks in the future.
The most serious allergens are those that cause anaphylaxis in the majority of cases. These include soy, cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, and wheat. In order to be safe for consumption, any product must have been produced in a factory that doesn’t co-process with any of these allergens.
Parents of children with food allergies are uniquely qualified to read labels and judge for themselves whether a treat is safe for their children, but it is extremely thoughtful of the rest of us to help them in any way we can.
The Teal Pumpkin
A new initiative by the Food Allergy Research and Education Organization asks all participating households to place a teal-colored pumpkin on the doorstep you will be handing out treats from. Most parents of children with serious food allergies will recognize this gesture and know that they can send their kids to your house!
Safe Treats for Kids with Allergies
The safest treat for kids who come to your door will always be non-food items. Though this isn’t super exciting, it’s a great idea to have an alternative on hand, just in case you run out of safe food items. Go to the dollar store and pick out some toys and trinkets – kids will have a blast with a new water gun or a toy car. Sometimes children with food allergies can feel like they are missing out, but having special toys can help lift their spirits on a tough night like Halloween.
The Five S-Candies
Each one of the following is free of the “big 8” allergens and processed on safe equipment. Separate these candies into a different bowl for children with allergies – better yet, put them into a teal bowl so they are clearly distinguished.
- Sour Patch
- Swedish Fish
- Ring Pops*
*All flavors of ring pops are also “big 8” safe.
Safe chocolate candies will be nearly impossible to come by, especially since most chocolate is processed with cow’s milk and soy. Some chocolate candies are also processed in factories with shared equipment for peanuts and tree nuts. When in doubt, reach for the five s-candies and some dollar store toys.
The Thought Actually Counts
Parents of children with food allergies are on constant high alert for their kids. They’re always prepared with an EpiPen, constantly reading labels, and never leave home without a fully charged phone. It’s an unrelenting job to be a parent, let alone a parent to one of these kids.
Your efforts to offer safe treats for their children will be appreciated more than you can fathom. They’ll probably still read your labels and double-check, so don’t feel undervalued. Know that you have made a difference in someone’s life just by thinking of them. In this case, it’s really the thought that counts for a family with food allergies.