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Try These Tricks for Allergen-safe Halloween Treats

Tim Boyer's picture

Make this an allergen-safe Halloween this month with these recent treat recommendations to help protect youngster monsters from a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.


According to a recent Medical Minute, Dr. Tracy Fausnight, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital says that the most common food allergies for young children are milk, egg and peanut.

Unfortunately, however, those are just the key ingredients that are found in the tastiest of chocolate morsels that kids (and adults) find so tempting around Halloween. So what’s a concerned parent or neighbor to do? First off, you can try to limit the types of Halloween candies to buy.

This means no milk chocolates and/or candies with any kind of nuts in them for obvious reasons. However, what may not be so obvious are those candies that contain nougat such as Milky Way or Three Musketeers candy bars. Nougat is a combination of honey, roasted nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamia), whipped egg whites and in some concoctions, chopped candied fruit. In addition, you will want to avoid such candies as chewy Sweetarts and Laffy Taffy that have egg in them.

For the latest on what physicians have to say about allowing or not allowing children to eat peanuts, here is a surprising finding from a recent study that changes what we were told in the past about feeding peanut butter to toddlers.

If you try to be an informed shopper by reading the labels on the bag of treats to see if they are allergen-safe or not, there is no guarantee that some cross-contamination has not occurred in a plant where multiple types of candies are manufactured. According to the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital Medical Minute: Labels warning that an item was manufactured in a facility that also processes items that may contain allergens are not a good indicator of whether an item is safe or not.

“They have no real meaning and are not supported by the FDA,” Fausnight said. “One item may have something in it and another may not―it’s sort of random. The companies put it on mostly to protect themselves, but you just don’t know. The most conservative approach for children with food allergies is to avoid foods marked with cross-contamination labeling.”

Still, this does not exclude all candies. Their recommendation of some safer allergen-free candy choices includes such things as Skittles, Smarties, Starburst, Dum Dums and Haribo gummy bears.

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But another recommendation is to give children non-candy treats such as stickers, pencils, bubbles, crayons, friendship bracelets, bouncy balls and bookmarks. Many of these items are easily available at party stores that provide child gift bag trinket stuffers.


If you are inclined to make your neighborhood a safer one this Halloween, you could take part in the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) nonprofit groups’ Teal Pumpkin Project that raises awareness about food allergies and promotes the inclusion of all children in the trick-or-treat tradition of having of a safe and happy Halloween.

The Teal Pumpkin Project requires that you pledge to provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and paint a pumpkin teal to place in front of your home, along with a free printable sign from FARE, to indicate to other like-minded parents concerned about food allergens in candy that you have non-food treats available for their children.

For more about how to have a safe and happy Halloween, here’s an informative article on the No. 1 cause of death attributed to Halloween that you need to avoid. Plus, here is a warning about a hidden milk allergen found in all schools.


Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Medical Minute “The trick to finding allergy-safe Halloween treats

Foodallergy.org The Teal Pumpkin Project