Put a teal pumpkin on your porch this Halloween to signal that you have allergen-free treats for trick-or-treaters.
Why Are Food Allergies a Big Deal?
It may be hard for older generations to understand what a family goes through when a child has food allergies because food allergies were less common when they were raising children. However, the number of Americans diagnosed with food allergies has increased by 50% since 1997. One in 13 children and 1 in 10 adults now have food allergies in the US. (1)
Children with food allergies may face social isolation, bullying, and miss out on events like trick-or-treating because they have severe physical reactions to certain ingredients found in popular Halloween candy. (2) For those with severe allergies, children not only have to avoid ingesting the ingredient, but also coming into contact with the food altogether.
The difficulties are compounded with financial impacts to families purchasing special foods for their children as well as physical and psychological impacts when a life-threatening reaction occurs. (2)
According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004, the top 9 allergens that must be declared on nutrition labels include: (3)
It may seem challenging to find treats that don't contain any of these ingredients, but there are brands listed below, or you can determine if they are safe by reading the end of the ingredients list. Most large companies bold the allergens and it will look similar to:
CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT
Companies can choose instead to list the common name of the major food allergen followed by the food source in parentheses in the list of the ingredients. For example:
"lecithin (soy)," "flour (wheat)," and "whey (milk)"
If you have a child at home with food allergies, check out our blog on ways to use fruit for fun Halloween treats.
Allergen-Free Treats You Can Offer on Halloween
For those interested in being an allergen-free home for kids with food allergies to visit on Halloween, here are a list of allergen-free treats you can offer:
toys or games (from the Dollar Store)
*Although Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips do not include allergens, their website says, "While our products do not contain nut ingredients, we cannot guarantee that our facility is nut-free. Our manufacturing facilities follow rigid allergen control programs and good manufacturing practices to prevent cross-contact with allergens."
**Although Good Health Monster-Shaped Veggie Chips state that they do not contain the Top Allergens, they have a disclaimer that the chips are made on shared equipment that makes products containing milk. Few have such a severe milk allergy that this type of potential cross-contamination would cause a reaction, but it's a good idea to let parents know about this or put a sign on your treat bowl.
Put a Teal Pumpkin on Your Porch & Other Ways to Let Families Know I Have Allergen-Free Treats on Halloween
A teal pumpkin on your porch lets families know that you have treats free of the top 9 allergens for their little ghouls. You can paint your own pumpkin or purchase one at most stores during the Halloween season.
Add your house to the map! FARE's Teal Pumpkin Project has started a nationwide map of homes providing allergen-free treats to kids this year. Add your address so families can search the FARE website to find homes near them offering allergen-free treats.
NextDoor has a Halloween treat map where you can add your home and a message about your allergen-friendly treats.
For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit FARE's website.
If your family needs help finding allergen-free substitutions or navigating newly diagnosed food allergies, make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian at: ZESTNutritionService.com