Halloween and food allergies

Last Modified: 10/14/2021

Halloween Food Allergies

This post was written by Heather Willison, MSN, FNP-C.

When I think of October, crisp leaves, apple cider and cozy sweaters come to mind. So do goblins and princesses ringing my doorbell, eagerly awaiting their Halloween treats! It was recently announced that Fort Wayne plans to move forward with trick-or treating this fall, with guidance from the Indiana Department of Health. For many families, this just means it’s time to decide on costumes, but for others it triggers a discussion about how to best protect their child from accidentally coming into contact with a food allergen

Food labeling

In 2006, The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) went into effect.  This law requires that foods be clearly labeled to identify the eight major food allergens (wheat, milk, soy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish). Many candy bars contain peanuts or tree nuts, or at the very least state on the label that they are manufactured in a facility with peanuts or tree nuts. Additionally, many chocolates, caramels and fruit snacks also contain wheat, milk, soy and egg. Unfortunately, when you buy that bag of fun- or “snack-sized candies to distribute to trick-or-treaters, the labeling is often only visible on the original bag, rather than each individual candy wrapper. This makes Halloween a potentially dangerous holiday for those with food allergies. 

What can parents do?

Parents are encouraged to warn their children not to sample their treats until they return home for the evening. This allows mom and dad to check their child’s candy haul for anything that might lead to an allergic reaction. Of course, it is important to have a non-food treat on hand to substitute if needed. Speaking of non-food treats …

Teal Pumpkin Project

The Teal Pumpkin Project was the product of a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee, and was launched nationally in 2014 by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). The purpose of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to allow for a safe trick-or-treating experience for all, by showing respect for those faced with managing food allergies or other health conditions. By placing a teal painted pumpkin on your doorstep, or placing a teal pumpkin poster in the window, you are sharing with your community that you are passing out non-food items at your home for Halloween. Suggested items include glow sticks, pencils, erasers, notepads, balls, small toys, playing cards, etc. You may visit tealpumpkinproject.org if you would like to print out a sign for your window.

Whether you choose to be part of the Teal Pumpkin Project or plan to distribute the traditional Halloween treats, I hope you all enjoy the Halloween season and the little goblins and princesses that come to visit!


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