There’s no doubt about it – Halloween can be a particularly spooky time for people with food allergies and their loved ones. Halloween is one of the most popular food-sharing holidays in the United States and, for lots of children, this sugar-rush-fueled night of tricks and treats is the most exciting night of the year. However, for children with food allergies and their loved ones, it can be an unwelcome reminder of dietary limitations that require vigilance and a level of caution that often causes feelings of social isolation and dread. In other words, Halloween isn’t always the treat it’s cut out to be for many families.
We know how you feel – many members of our staff have food allergies or have loved ones with food allergies. Using our years of tried-and-true experience, we’ve compiled a list of the top mistakes that food-allergic folks and their loved ones make that put them at risk. By avoiding these top five food allergy mistakes, you can have a safe Halloween and still enjoy everything that this spooky season has to offer.
1. Eating Candy on the Go
If trick-or-treating is an activity you and your food-allergic child are comfortable partaking in, eating candy before returning home is particularly risky. Especially if trick-or-treating happens after dark and you’re actively walking for the majority of the night, thoroughly reading fine print on fun-size packaging is difficult and mistakes are more likely to be made. We recommend saving the sugar rush until you’re done going door-to-door and are back in the comfort of your own home.
2. Not Checking Ingredients
Just like the zombies in your favorite Halloween movies, this one is a no-brainer. Remember – factories can change their ingredients or manufacturing practices at any time, so you’ll need to be prepared to review everything before you or your child dig in. As always, if you’re not sure or the packaging is damaged and cannot be read, it’s best to donate those items to friends without food allergies and stick to treats you can trust.
3. Eating Homemade or Unlabeled Treats
Full-size candy bar houses aren’t just the gold standard for trick-or-treaters, the extra space and complete nutritional labeling on these treats makes it easier for food allergic kids and their caretakers to double check ingredients. However, some houses prefer to bake their own treats or give out items that have been home-packaged and may not include complete nutritional labeling (if any at all). Even if the homeowner verbally confirms that there are no allergens included, these treats are still risky since you can’t check each ingredient that went into making them. Avoid accepting or allowing your child to accept these treats – it’s not worth the uncertainty.
4. Eating at Halloween Parties
Cue “Monster Mash” and “Thriller” on repeat all night! Unfortunately, eating at holiday parties hosted by people who are not aware of your food allergy can lead to confusion about what is and isn’t safe to consume and can be incredibly risky depending on your (or your child’s) level of allergic sensitivity. To avoid accidental exposure and fend off the FOMO (fear of missing out), reach out to party hosts in advance to discuss food allergy accommodations. For even more peace of mind, consider eating ahead of time and packing a few safe snacks to enjoy at the party.
5. Not Carrying TWO Epinephrine Auto-Injectors
The worst mistake to make is not bringing any epinephrine – the second biggest mistake is not bringing two! Accidental exposure and reactions can happen even if you did everything you could to avoid them and, as many food allergy families know, one dose of epinephrine sometimes isn’t enough. If you are food allergic, be prepared by keeping two auto-injectors on you at all times, and make sure at least one other person in your party knows how to use them. If you’re caring for a child with food allergies, have them practice administering epinephrine themselves ahead of time, especially if they are old enough to be on their own on Halloween. If your child is younger, be sure to supervise them at all times and have a plan in case anything goes wrong.
By thoroughly checking candy to enjoy at home, only accepting packaged treats with clear labels, planning your festivities ahead of time, and always carrying two epinephrine auto-injectors, we hope you’ll be able to skip the tricks and focus on the treats this Halloween. Have a favorite Halloween hack you’d like to share with other food allergy families? Let us know!
About Intrommune Therapeutics
At Intrommune, we are dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of the over 220 million people worldwide who suffer from life-altering food allergies. Our revolutionary oral mucosal immunotherapy (OMIT) treatment platform is a patient-friendly solution that conveniently incorporates allergy immunotherapy into a patient’s established teeth brushing routine. Our lead product, INT301, is in Phase 1 clinical trials for peanut allergy desensitization.
Visit our website to learn more about our mission to develop simple, safe and effective solutions for food allergy sufferers so that they and their loved ones can live without fear.
Blog photo by Jessica Flores on Unsplash, licensed for use under the Unsplash License.