With all of the ghosts, goblins, vampires and werewolves running about, Halloween can be a scary time of year. For most of us the thrills and chills are great fun, but for kids with food allergies, “scary” takes on a whole new meaning. Candy with nuts in it can be deadly. Chocolate is worrisome for kids with dairy allergies. It can be very hard to find hypoallergenic treats.

The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization has come up with an idea to help keep Halloween a safe and happy time. They are doing this through encouraging people to go teal.

Going Teal

The project is called the Teal Pumpkin Project, and it encourages people to offer treats that are not food, like crayon or toys. To advertise these special treats, people should place a teal-colored pumpkin on the porch and print a flyer from the project website. Veronica LeFemina, spokeswoman for FARE, says that the project can make a huge impact in local communities. She is thrilled to see people embrace the idea.

In fact, “embrace” may be too tame a term. The initial posting on Facebook had a reach of well over 2.5 million people in just the first three days it was live. Other posts have been shared over 30,000 times. All over the web, photos are turning up of kids painting their pumpkins teal.

Avoid Mix-and-Match

Some folks do not want to purchase non-food items, perhaps feeling that Halloween is all about edible treats. In this case, it is helpful to separate non-allergenic candy from that which could be dangerous. Even slight cross-contamination can cause serious problems.

In addition to the usual candy, folks may consider buying gluten-free or sugar-free treats for kids with diabetes or celiac disease.

Stopping Allergies

It is always a good idea to instruct your children not to eat anything until they get home from Trick or Treating. For little ones, do not try to explain the dangers in detail. Just tell them that it is important for mom and dad to check their goodies to make sure they are safe.

Remember, even if your child does not have candy that contains nuts, it may have been mass-produced in a facility that also produces candy with nuts. Suddenly, you have a cross-contamination problem.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to go through all treats to target any potentially troublesome items.
  • Do not just inspect for candies that openly contain allergens.
  • It is vital to read labels.
  • Keep an epinephrine auto-injector handy as well, in case your child does have an allergic reaction.
  • Make sure that the medicine is current. Injectors are typically only good for a year.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is an exciting new initiative that promises to return something to Halloween that has perhaps been lost over the past decade or so. Now, Halloween can again feel safe as well as fun.

You can download the sign for the Teal Pumpkin Project to let Trick or Treaters know your treats are safe here.