As you prepare for a visit from make-believe ghosts, goblins and spooky creatures, make it your goal to keep Halloween safe for those children with food allergies.
What have we learned from Halloweens in previous years? It can be done safely, with a little advance planning. One of the most important things to do for this holiday (as well as anytime) is to be a label detective!
Many snack foods and candy may contain peanuts, nuts, eggs and milk (among the most common food allergens in U.S. kids). That means_ "don't allow a food allergic child to eat any candy or food items without a clear ingredient label of ALL the ingredients. This will significantly reduce the risk of an unexpected encounter with a food allergen.
Here is a list of ways to enjoy a safe Halloween. • Go shopping with your child and pre-purchase safe foods and snacks that do not contain suspect food allergens before the Halloween "trick-or-treating" begins.
• Attend a Halloween party (particularly with a young child) to ensure that you can monitor goodies and treats, to keep your child safe, and resolve any food allergy issues.
• Bake your own safe foods and treats at home, and bring them with you to parties and during trick-or-treating on Halloween (if your child has gluten intolerance or celiac disease, this will be necessary and particularly important).
• If your child is allergic to egg and egg products, watch out for a "shiny" appearance on foods, that may signal egg coating on bakery foods, such as breads, cookies and cakes.
• Keep your child's emergency medication on hand, such as an epinephrine auto-injector, if prescribed for potential use if a food induced allergic reaction should occur. If your child has asthma, you will also need to have a prescribed "rescue inhaler" on hand for unexpected asthma episodes.
• Give out stickers and other "non food" items lieu of candy and snacks during Halloween.
More great safety tips can be found at my website.
Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.