Updated 31 May 2017

Halloween can be dangerous for kids with food allergies

Keeping your kids safe from a potential allergic reaction could save their lives this Halloween.


Parents of youngsters with food allergies may feel Halloween is more trick than treat, but the holiday's risks can be reduced with some simple precautions, an expert says.

Emphasis on spookiness

"Every year Halloween is a bigger celebration. And every year, parents of kids with food allergies have to think about ways to keep their child safe from potential allergic reactions," allergist Dr Janna Tuck said in an American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) news release.

Read: City kids have more food allergies

"About 4 to 6 percent of children in the United States have a food allergy. And while many kids are good at knowing what they're allergic to, sometimes there are hidden dangers kids and parents need to be aware of," she added.

One way to make Halloween safer for children with food allergies is to put the emphasis on spookiness rather than treats.

Read: Kids can get food allergies from donated blood

There are many fun things to do that don't involve eating, such as watching scary movies, going to haunted houses or on treasure hunts, making masks, or carving pumpkins.

While you and your child may know which foods trigger an allergic reaction, some Halloween treats don't provide information about their ingredients and are not safe for children with food allergies.

Let your kids know that mini-sized snacks may not carry the usual food allergy warnings.

Read: Young children and allergies

It's also important for parents to tell their children it's fine to say "No, thank you" to treats they know are not safe for them.

Nonfood treats

One thing parents of children with food allergies can do is drop off safe treats with neighbours before Halloween.

Read: Making kids used to food allergens

And if you're worried that your youngster will be tempted to snack while trick-or-treating, make them a special treat sack to help them avoid the temptation of snacking before they get home.

A campaign to boost awareness of food allergies was launched last year by the nonprofit organisation Food Allergy Research & Education.

The group suggests buying inexpensive nonfood treats and placing a pumpkin painted teal – the colour of food allergy awareness – in front of your house, so that parents and children with food allergies know that's a house that will offer them a safe, nonfood treat.

Read more: 

Severe reaction to food common in children 

Rapid increase in child food allergies  

Asthmatic kids may have food allergies


Ask the Expert

Allergy expert

Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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