Halloween Candies That Are Safe for Kids with Food Allergies
One in 13 children have a food allergy. Here's how you can help them have a safe (and allergy-free) Halloween.
For parents, Halloween can be a very scary time. No, not because of the creepy masks and makeup, or the red Pennywise balloon accessory (ack!). We're talking about food allergies.
The top eight food allergies, according to Mayo Clinic, are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts), fish (bass, cod, flounder), shellfish, (crab, lobster, shrimp), soy, and wheat. Luckily, parents can breathe a sigh of relief since we doubt your next-door neighbor is handing out cod. But they could be extending a basket of life-threatening treats to kids with food allergies.
What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
"FARE asks participating households to offer a separate bowl of non-food trinkets and treasures as part of their Halloween festivities," Kathleen Vickers, Communications Associate for FARE says. Glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces come in handy when kids are trick-or-treating in the dark. Vampire fangs and spider rings are appreciated, and most kids will wear them right away.
"Regardless whether a food is listed in a guide as 'safe,' FARE recommends that all families managing food allergies read every label, every time, and call manufacturers with any questions they may have," Vickers says. She adds, while U.S. law mandates labeling in plain English for the eight most common food allergen ingredients, there are other aspects of labeling that are confusing for consumers.
Kids want candy, and we want everyone to be safe. The below allergy-friendly information was gathered from Spokin.com, a resource FARE recommends to parents and caregivers of children with food allergies.
Disclosure: It's important to realize, that while we have listed at least three safe candies for each of the most common allergens, children may have multiple allergies. That's why it's crucial to talk to your allergist and pediatrician first. Use Spokin's Halloween Candy Guide as an adjunct to your medical professional's advice.
For your little sweet tooth:
- Milk Duds
Tree Nuts-Free Candy
If your child is allergic to tree nuts offer:
- Kit Kat Bars
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups — Peanuts are not a tree nut.
If milk chocolate is out because of a dairy allergy, try:
- Sour Patch Kids
- Dum Dums
You could also bake up a batch of milk-free chocolate chip cookies.
If eggs are a no go, offer:
- Ring Pops
- Tootsie Pops
Sweets that are sans soy and won't need to be weeded out of your kid's Halloween sack include:
- Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
Make the day of a kid with celiac disease by offering these wheat-free candies:
- Laffy Taffy
Make a batch of Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins for a sweet Halloween morning surprise before school.
Dr. Jeremy Akers, Head of the Graduate Dietetics Program at James Madison University tells Allrecipes that if parents or older kids are unsure if a product has a known allergen, or is processed in a facility with a known allergen, homework and research on the product are required first.
"Most well-known products have their allergen and facility information on their web page," he says, adding when in doubt, or if you cannot find the information, you should not let your child consume the Halloween candy. He warns: "The mini candy people hand out, almost never contain labels, so you will need to do your research if you are unsure.
Dr. Akers also suggests allergy-conscious candy shoppers can steer clear of popular candies and hand out more allergy-friendly brands, such as Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Minis, Free2Be Sun Cups, and Yum Earth gummies. While these products are go-to-grabs for many allergy families, you still need to read the labels, research cross contamination, and, when in doubt, speak to your allergist.
Set some trick-or-treat ground rules.
The most important takeaway when your children are trick-or-treating is to enforce the no-eating rule until a parent checks the stash.
"Labels should be checked by parents to ensure that the candy doesn't contain allergens," Dr. Princess Ogbogu, Director of Allergy and Immunology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center tells Allrecipes. "As tempting as it is, remind them not to eat anything on their trek. You can also pack safe candy, so they do have something to eat while going door-to-door.
By age 12, your zombie will likely want to trick or treat without you. Thanks to smart phones, you can track kids as they hit houses with a group of friends. So, after you go over the general rules — no toilet papering houses, stay with the group, call me when you want to come home, look both ways when crossing the street, say thank you — talk about allergy safety. Even if your big kid wants to eat treats along the way, encourage them not to or enforce they can only eat something that's been deemed safe in the past. Halloween night is not the time to experiment. Most importantly, make sure they have their EPI Pen with them. Plus, a best bud, should know how to help their pal if they have a reaction.
Dr. Ogbogu reminds parents of teens to talk to them about disclosing food allergies. After all, they're likely to kiss someone — a new boyfriend, girlfriend, a random person in a round of Spin the Bottle or on a dare — around this age, and that could spell allergy issues. "There is data to suggest that food allergens can remain in saliva for up to 4 hours or more, so teens should be counseled about this," she cautions.
Amy Nazarko, from Wayne, NJ, is the mother of a tween daughter who is allergic to tree nuts. Her daughter has friends with severe food allergies, too. "My daughter knows how to inject herself and a friend, in the thigh, who needs help. Her friend should lay on the ground. She knows the next step is to call 911, call me or her dad, call the friend's parents; and yell out for a grownup. Stay with her friend until an ambulance arrives. My daughter also knows that she can administer a second injection."
"Allergy exposure can happen at any time, and prompt treatment of anaphylaxis is critical to prevent poor outcomes. Having an auto injectable epinephrine device immediately available and knowing how to use it is important," Dr. Ogbogu advises. That said, if your little one is trick-or-treating with a group of parents and kids, make sure an adult has the EPI Pen and knows how to use it. The adult should not let your kid eat anything until they arrive home to mom and dad.
Halloween isn't just about candy: Dr. Ogbogu says kids with allergies need to steer clear of the fun and kind-of-gross bobbing for apple game, "to avoid cross contamination." Your kid doesn't have to be left out. Bring your own container and apples and designate it for your child only.