By Lindsay Hoar, RD, CD, Registered Dietitian, Lifestyle Medicine at NMC

It’s that time of year again. That familiar nip in the air and dwindling daylight hours can only mean one thing, fall is here. October in particular has numerous themed activities including: apple picking, corn mazes, leaf peeping, and of course, Halloween.

For children who suffer from allergies those Halloween treats can pose a serious risk.

Many allergens such as wheat, milk, soy and even egg are used chocolates, caramels and fruit chews, according to dietician Rima Kleiner, writing for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Candies that don’t contain allergens may have been made or processed on the same equipment as candies that do, creating a risk for children who may react to even small amounts of peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens.

Kleiner and the Academy recommend the following strategies for making Halloween safer for children with allergies:

  • Read labels. Check the ingredients list for allergens. Also, look for statements like, “may contain…” or “contains…” or “processed in a facility that also processes…”
  • Talk to your neighbors. If you plan on tick-o-treating in the neighborhood, your neighbors and friends may want to buy allergen-free candy.
  • Look for the teal pumpkins. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a campaign to raise awareness about food allergies and provide safe options for food allergic trick-o-treaters. Participants pledge to put a teal pumpkin outside their homes, indicating they have safe, non-food treats available.
  • Instill the always ask first rule. Carry candy for young children and remind them not to share food and to ask you before enjoying.
  • Be safe at school. If your kid participates in Halloween at school, take an active role in preventing the risk of a dangerous allergic reaction. Talk to teachers in advance and offer to bring treats or non-food goodies if applicable.

For more tips on healthy eating for your family visit the Academy’s website at www.eatright.org.