When it comes to Halloween candy, there can be safety concerns for parents. Some children have food allergies, which prevents them from eating certain types of candy. And some parents may just have concerns over too much sugar. However, there are fun alternatives to make everyone feel included!
Dr. William Culver specializes in allergy and immunology at Banner McKee Medical Center in Loveland, CO. He said that 5–8 percent of children and 2–3 percent of adults are at risk for severe life-threatening reactions to food allergy.
“In many cases, prior reactions are not as severe or nonexistent,” Dr. Culver said. “20–25 percent of allergic reactions requiring epinephrine in schools are for children without a prior history of food allergy.”
A cause for concern
Almost any food can cause a reaction and miniature candies might not have labels saying which ingredients are in it. This makes it hard for parents to know if the candy is safe for their kid.
Dr. Culver offered some tips for parents when deciding what sweets their child should eat:
- Parents should make sure their child avoids the sweets until they can be inspected at home
- If your child trick-or-treats freely, offer to trade unsafe items for safe treats or a special prize like a book or toy
- Let your child know that he/she can’t eat any candies without you checking the label and approving it first
- Be sure to check the labels and find out the manufacturing practices of your favorite treats
If your child does have an allergic reaction, the first treatment is to separate your child from the candy. Mild symptoms such as limited hives or itching may be treated with an antihistamine, Dr. Culver said. More severe, systemic symptoms such as marked swelling of the face or tongue, respiratory difficulty, wheezing, diffuse hives, lethargy, or severe gastrointestinal symptoms require the use of an Epinephrine injector.
The Teal Pumpkin Project offers alternatives for kids who have food allergies and for others who can’t eat candy. Families can display a teal pumpkin or a sign from Food Allergy Research & Education to signal they are giving out non-food treats.
Halloween candy alternatives
Here is a list of 25 things you can hand out to your trick-or-treaters instead of candy:
- Temporary tattoos
- Bouncy balls
- Friendship bracelets
- Glow sticks or glow wands
- Plastic rings
- Plastic bugs
- Hair accessories
- Cool, colorful erasers
- Spider rings
- Pencils or pencil toppers
- Squirt guns
- Miniature model clay dough
- Pirate eye patches
- Rubber stamps
- Plastic dinosaurs
- Spin tops or poppers
- Small cars
- Folding fans
Be aware that even some non-food treats contain allergens. Some brands of moldable clay contain wheat, for instance, and you should try to choose latex-free options. Many of these items are found in bulk online for the same price (or close) to those huge bags of candy.
To see which houses are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can look at the participation map on the FARE website.
Read more: This or that? A look at Halloween treats' nutritional values