Victoria Gestner works with Midwest ENT Consultants, who are ear, nose and throat doctors with offices in various locations, including Plainfield. She wrote this in conjunction with the allergy experts at Midwest ENT Consultants.
Candy – commonly a big part of Halloween – can be a challenge for those with food allergies. But just because you have a food allergy doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the fun this month.
If you have food allergies, you simply need to exercise caution and make different choices when celebrating the holiday. Several of the most-common food allergens – milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts (almonds, cashews and walnuts) – are found in beloved Halloween candies. The FDA requires food manufacturers to include these allergens on food packages, but it’s really our responsibility to take action and avoid risks as well.
Here are some helpful tips from Midwest ENT Consultants, to help keep children safe when it comes to Trick-or-Treat time!
- Since peanut allergies are on the rise with children (these allergies have nearly doubled in the last 10 years), stray away from candy that contains peanuts, has traces of peanuts or has been processed in a facility with peanut products.
- Depending on the particular allergy, some safe candy options could include Smarties, gum, mints, hard candy, Tootsie Rolls or jelly beans.
- Consider making a "safe" treat bag and delivering it to your neighbors prior to trick-or-treating time. That way, they can give it to give your child when they ring the doorbell!
- Make it a rule that no candy will be consumed while trick-or-treating or before an adult can check the ingredients.
- Try avoiding candy altogether and pass out non-food items and low-cost trinkets such as stickers, fake tattoos, pencils or coins.
- Make the holiday about costumes, cards and spooky stories, and NOT about the food and candy. Plan a Halloween party where you have the control instead of trick-or-treating.
- Remember that food allergies are really serious and can even lead to severe life-threatening reactions. Those with a known food allergy or history of food reaction – including hives, trouble breathing, throat swelling or anaphylaxis – should always carry a twin pack of epinephrine injector pens (EpiPens) in case of an emergency.
If you suspect your child may have food allergies, a quick blood test called a RAST for IgE antibodies is commonly used to determine if an allergy exists. If an allergy does exist, our nurses can advise what foods and food classes to avoid and what to do in the event of an emergency to avoid an unwanted frightful Halloween.