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It’s Halloween! Avoid a Food Allergy

Reading before Eating
  • Always read the ingredient label on any treat your child receives. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.
  • If the ingredients are not listed, arrange for a treat “exchange” with classmates or friends (who do not have allergies themselves). Or, bag up the goodies your child can’t eat because of an allergy and leave them with a note asking the “Treat Fairy” to swap them for a prize.
  • Be aware that even if they are not listed on the ingredient label, candies (both chocolate and non-chocolate) are at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because factories often produce many different products. Also, “fun size” or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.
  • Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies, and never to taste or share another child’s food.
Food-Free Fun
  • Offer non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters and classmates. Food Allergy Research & Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safe trick-or-treating options for food-allergic children, suggests items such as glow sticks, spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, finger puppets, whistles, bookmarks, stickers and stencils (but, be wary of toys/objects that are choking hazards). Consider supplying some to neighbors whose homes your child will visit.
  • Plan alternatives to trick-or-treating, such as slumber parties or get-togethers to watch age-appropriate creepy movies.
  • Center parties around festive activities such as costume parades, pumpkin decorating contests, Halloween themed games, crafts, and scavenger hunts or spooky story books.
Don’t Keep Others in the Dark
  • Inform teachers and other adults with your child about the food allergy and how to react to an emergency.
  • Don’t let your child trick-or-treat alone, and make sure they have an epinephrine auto-injector with them. Anyone with a cell phone should fully charge it before heading out.
  • Explain symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, such as shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of lips or tongue, and dizziness.
  • Even if epinephrine is administered right away and anaphylaxis symptoms seem to stop, the child treated always should be taken to the emergency room for further evaluation.
Teal Pumpkin Project
  • The “Teal Pumpkin Project” raises awareness about food allergies during Halloween.
  • Putting a teal colored pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters that are concerned about food allergies.
  • The Food Allergy Research and Education website,, has more information about the project and resources for those suffering from foot allergies.


American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2015)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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