Trick-or-Treaters With Food Allergies Can Look for ‘Teal Pumpkins’

first_imgFall is officially here. There’s a chill in the air, the scent of cinnamon wafting in grocery stores, apples abundantly displayed just waiting to be turned into homemade applesauce, and the ultimate sign of fall…pumpkins everywhere.For some, pumpkins mean nothing more than a simple seasonal change. For others they signify the beginning of all things that are deliciously pumpkin. Yet, kids (and adults) often see pumpkins as the mascot for our first holiday of the season: Halloween.Cherished by most as being an evening to get creative with costumes, pumpkin carving and painting, haunted hayrides and houses, and, of course, trick-or-treating, it’s an evening filled with memories. However, many children that would love to enjoy trick-or-treating can have a difficult time due severe food allergies. Whether a child’s allergy is to milk, eggs, gluten, wheat, peanuts, soy, food dyes, or tree nuts (or perhaps they can’t have candy at all), not all big brands state that a child with one or any of those allergies may safely consume one of their products.Attempting to find allergen friendly candy or snacks can also be very difficult. For example, those of us who have allergies always read every ingredient on every item of food we buy because even on something that sounds like it should be fine, it might cause a terrible reaction. Consider Twizzlers or Red Vines in this instance. They’re just licorice. However, they both contain wheat and red dye.If someone is severely allergic to wheat and they consume these products they will likely have a reaction. As for the red dye, well, this past January, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology did a study and stated that around 2 to 7 percent of those with allergies actually have issues with food dyes. The side effects from ingesting dyes when allergic can range from difficulty breathing to anaphylaxis. So, licorice is not fun to eat when you have allergies.Unfortunately even the “healthier” hand outs like such as dried fruits (preservatives and fructose), yogurt covered fruits (dairy), pretzels (gluten), nuts, dark chocolate (often processed in facilities where milk, soy, peanuts can cause cross contamination), etc. are out of the running when you have allergies. So, what if there was another way that kids could Trick or Treat without feeling left out? What if we took food out of the equation entirely and did something different?In 2014 FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, started the Teal Pumpkin Project. The premise is to paint a pumpkin teal and display it by your front door so children with food allergies know you’re participating. Instead of giving out food items, you hand out non-food items. Some examples of what can be given out:Glow sticks, bracelets, necklacesHalloween themed erasersMarkers, pens, pencils, crayonsWhistles, noisemakersMini note padsThere are many options with non-food items, just use your imagination. Also, as stated on FARE’s website you can definitely give out candy and non-food items if you so choose as long as you do it safely by asking if the children have allergies.Last year homes from all 50 states and 7 countries participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project. To be honest, I knew nothing about this then so I’m really hoping to help spread the word about this and make sure every child gets the chance to have a safe and Happy Halloween.For more information, posters, a pre-made goodie bag with 50 non-food treats, window stickers and more please visit FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project.— News release from Dominique Soeldner, [email protected] (PDF, 608KB)last_img

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