Children will head out Wednesday night with one goal in mind—CANDY! But some of those little Power Rangers and Disney Princesses have specific food allergies that can quickly turn a pleasurable outing deadly.
For children with severe food allergies, “reading the labels could mean life or death,” says Lisa Horne, president and founder of the Arizona Food Allergy Alliance (AFAA), a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of those affected by food allergies in Arizona.
With a little planning and some safety precautions, all children can join in on the ghoulish fun. The AFAA recommends six tips to consider when children are trick-or-treating or families are passing out candy this Halloween.
- Have two bowls of treats handy for the trick-or-treaters. Offer them the usual treats, as well as the non-candy goodies.
- If your child has food allergies, but still wants to join their friends door-to-door, make sure they know not to gobble any candy as they walk. When they get home, you can replace their candy with safe substitutes and donate the candy they can’t eat to programs like Sweets for Soldiers. Applaud your child for making a decision to help others.
- Get used to reading every label, every time. No label? Toss it! Treats that are normally “safe” for kids become risky when mass-produced in holiday packaging.
- Remember when your child was an infant and you packed the diaper bag with almost everything except the crib? Treat Halloween with a food-allergic child the same way. If you think you may need it, drag it along. In the case of a reaction, you will want to have wet wipes, Benadryl, epinephrine and any prescribed medications.
- Bring snacks and risk-free treats your children can munch on while trick-or-treating to make sure they aren’t tempted to dip into the loot in their pumpkins and pillowcases.
Several candies are typically free of most—if not all—of the “Top Eight” allergens that account for 90 percent of all food allergens. The list consists of powder-like, hard and gummy-like candies including Dots, Laffy Taffy, Fun Dip, Smarties and Nerds. Find the complete list on the AFAA website.
For families with children living with food allergies, who are looking for an alternative event, the Arizona Food Allergy Alliance is hosting Trunk-or-Treat at Westwood High School in Mesa from 5 to 6pm tonight. A similar event will be held at La Madera Park in Tucson at the same time.