Sometimes a little bit scary is a whole lot of fun. That’s the idea behind the traditions we celebrate around Halloween, right? From the costumes we pick out to the giant oversized insects and ghouls some decorate with, there’s a sweet treat buried in the bits of fright.
For families managing food allergies, however, the bits of fun can be illusive. From the parties to candy dropped in your pumpkin bucket, the things others consider treats can be a little bit of a trick to manage. As with most other things in the realm of food allergies, the key to mitigating your risk on this one is to be aware of the risks and have a plan for success.
What’s Always Safe Maybe Isn’t
Don’t assume your favorite candy is safe when it shows up in your Halloween bucket. The candy folks are handing out is sized just right for Halloween buckets. It may feature holiday related imprints, additional colors, or an array of different variables made just for the occasion. What’s that got to do with your allergies? Those changes, no matter how fun or even as subtle as they may be, also mean that the manufacturing process and location may not be the same as your usual go to.
Just because you can safely consume a full-sized chocolate bar, doesn’t mean the “fun size” is going to be a viable option as well. Of course, we should note that this rule of thumb applies throughout the year. King-sized bars, smaller sizes, and holiday variants throughout the year may also be a different risk for allergic individuals. The take-away here? Read labels all the time. Always. No matter what.
“Not Labeled for Individual Sale”
You know your stuff. You’re going to carefully read every label of every item that hits your child’s bucket. You know not to assume just because something’s safe in one form that it’ll be safe in another. You’re ready for this. The bucket is dumped ceremoniously before you, you reach in, ready to scan the labels and….there’s nothing there. There’s a short statement telling you this item isn’t labeled for individual sale. The ingredients, the nutritional info, and yes, the allergy warnings, are all printed on the big bulk package leaving you and your little individual piece of candy clueless as to whether it’ll be safe or not. Remember the age old adage, “Better safe than sorry.” It applies here. If you can’t find a label to read, assume it’s not safe.
Pre-Game Prep Pays Off
Hopefully you’re reading this article before the holiday parties and trick-or-treating. If you are, take note. A little bit of pre-game prep can make a big difference. Take the time to peruse the Halloween candy aisles. Read the packaging carefully. Make yourself a list of what items will be safe for your allergic child to consume and what’s not. When you encounter one of those “not labeled for individual sale” items, check your notes on the candy aisle foray. When presented with a bowl full of options, seek out the products you know are safe based on your research.
Create Your Own Stash
It’s not a lot of fun to have an overflowing bowl of treats dwindle down to a handful of safe options once the adults in the room have weeded out all the unsafe candy from your loot. Be proactive. Let your allergic trick-or-treaters (and party-goers) pick a safe treat – edible or otherwise – that can be swapped out for the candy that’s a no-go. Make it special.
As always, don’t forget to have your auto-injector of epinephrine with you whether you are trick-or-treating or partying. Even if you don’t anticipate sampling your treats along the way, be prepared. Remember one of the biggest factors in whether or not a severe reaction is survivable is whether or not epinephrine is administered in a timely manner. Have it in easy reach at all times and be ready to use it according to your allergy action plan if you or your allergic loved one begins to react.