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Food Allergies and Halloween: Guide to Safe Trick-or-Treating!

It is estimated that 1 in 13 children have food allergies.  Food allergies can be life threatening and must be taken seriously!   While Trick-or-Treating should be an exciting time, the possibility of an accidental food allergy exposure can be high, so appropriate steps should be taken for the food allergic child.  Spotting allergy triggers in candies and treats isn’t always easy.

Here are some helpful Halloween Food Allergy Tips:

  • Parents, sort through your child’s candy before the wrappers start coming off.  Read the ingredient list carefully and discard (or keep for yourself later) those that your little goblin should avoid.
  • Beware of individually wrapped candies that are not labelled with ingredients and food allergy warnings.
  • Carry your self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™) for use early in emergencies.
  • Beware of “homemade” treats where the ingredients are not known.   Even if the ingredients are known, the possibility of cross contamination could have occurred during preparation.
  • Wear your medical identification bracelet and keep your food allergy/anaphylaxis plan handy
  • If in doubt, throw it out!

Major Halloween Food Allergens:

Chocolate candies:  the main ingredients in chocolate are milk, cocoa and peanuts or nuts.

  • Milk is the most common food allergy in young children.  The allergen is the milk proteins such as casein and whey proteins.  Lactose intolerance due difficulty digesting the milk sugar (lactose) is a common cause of abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness and diarrhea, but will not trigger an anaphylactic allergic reaction.
  • Peanuts and nuts are a common trigger of severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions.  While walnut is the most common nuts to trigger allergies, any other nut can also cause a reaction including cashew, pistachio, pecan, hazelnut and almond.  Coconut allergy tends to be less common.
  • Cocoa is rarely an allergic trigger!  Most reactions from cocoa occur during processing of cocoa beans.

Other foods ingredients in candy that can trigger an allergic reaction:

  • Egg, wheat and soy are the other very common food allergens.
  • Food dyes/colorings can trigger symptoms in a small percentage of persons.
  • Food preservatives are an unusual trigger but can occur.

There is additional information on food allergies at http://www.foodallergy.org/ and on anaphylaxis at  http://www.aanma.org/2010/12/find-an-anaphylaxis-community-expert-ace/.

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we wish you a safe and “spooktacular” Halloween!  If your child experiences an allergic reaction, call us!  We are here to take care of you!

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