Every three minutes, someone is admitted to the hospital for a food-induced allergy attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control, food allergies have risen by more than fifty percent since 1997. That may sound scary to you, but it’s downright frightening for kids with food allergies and their families, especially when it comes to holidays like Halloween.
The verdict is still out on why food allergies are on the rise. Some scientists and doctors think our home environments are too sterile and clean, creating immune system hypersensitivity. Others believe the introduction of genetically modified organisms into our food system has affected our bodies in various ways, food allergies being one. Regardless of the cause, food allergies are more prevalent than ever before, with one in every thirteen children having a medically diagnosed food allergy.
Top 8 Food Allergies
- Tree nuts
[ Read more about food allergies and shop for allergen-friendly products. ]
Sadly, Halloween is filled with threats to children with food allergies. From classroom parties to trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, pirates, ghosts and goblins alike run the risk of cross-contamination even when sticking to foods or candy that should be safe. The good news is that awareness is growing regarding food allergies. Even the youngest kids have come to understand that some food allergies are life threatening, and have compassionately risen to the challenge of standing by their food-sensitive friends.
Teal Pumpkin Project
So, what does it mean when you see a teal pumpkin on Halloween – and how is this colorful gourd saving lives?
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a huge relief to children with food allergies and their parents. It started in 2014, created by the Food Allergy Research & Education non-profit group, as a way to keep Halloween inclusive and safe for all kids. By putting a teal-painted pumpkin on your porch, walkway, or driveway, you can let kids with allergies and parents of kids with allergies know that you are passing out non-food items to trick-or-treaters.
Pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, and small inexpensive toys all make great treats. Meanwhile, the treat you’ll be giving parents, the gift of peace of mind, is truly priceless. Be sure to keep these items in a separate bowl, do not mix them with the candy you are passing out, since some children’s food allergies are so sensitive that even the dust on the wrapper from the product can set off an anaphylactic response.
Then again, you may want to consider skipping candy or food-related treats altogether. Let’s be honest, how many pounds of candy do kids really need? Sure, their parents may take some of it to work for the office, but then how many pounds of candy to we as adults really need? When it comes down to it, we could probably all do with a little less candy and a little more fun in our lives.
Think about it: Painting a pumpkin teal? Fun! Getting stickers and bubbles? Fun! Seeing kids enjoy a time honored tradition of donning cat ears and creepy clown masks while running through the streets of the neighborhood giggling with joy? Super fun!
Allergy-Friendly Halloween Treat Checklist
- Pencils and Erasers
- Glow Bracelets
- Mini Craft Kits
- Halloween Themed Toys