By Alexa Wyszkowski
Halloween should be a fun holiday for all. Pick out a costume. Purchase some candy. Give out the candy to kids or be the kids to go get the candy. Or even indulge and eat some candy. It’s a Happy Halloween indeed, unless one can’t eat the candy.
The point of trick or treating is to gather with family and friends, dress up and go around collecting candy. Halloween may seem like the best day of the year to most kids, unless you are a kid who has life threatening food allergies, food intolerances, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), celiac disease, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), feeding tubes, or is on a special diet. Kids with various conditions like these may not be able to have candy and may feel left out while trick-or-treating.
Halloween can also cause stress for the parents of these children, especially those with food allergies, as Halloween candy does not always have ingredient labels, the miniature versions of the candies may contain different ingredients and with all the handling of candy there are more chances of cross-contact. With all the risk involved there is a lot of uncertainty if the candy is safe or not for the child to handle or eat. If a child were to eat a candy that contained their allergen, they could have an allergic reaction, which could potentially lead to death.
In 2014 Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin Project, a program designed for the kids who may not be able to have candy, but should still be able to feel safe and included while trick or treating. Households can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project and show their support of food allergy awareness by providing non-candy treats and displaying a pumpkin painted teal or a free printable teal pumpkin sign from FARE’s website. By having a teal pumpkin displayed it tells families that there are safe non-food treats available. Non-food treats could include items such as stickers, pencils, glow sticks, or small toys. Candy can still be given out, as that is tradition, but keep the candy in a separate bowl from the non-food treats. Be sure to give all kids the choice of either candy or non-food treats.
Families can also add their home to FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project map online, so other families can plan to visit the houses that will definitely have safe non-food treats. By participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project you are creating a safer and happier Halloween for all. For more resources and information, visit foodallergy.org.