By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RD and Rayonna Hills BS

Halloween is a day full of surprises, laughter, and treats, no matter if you are at home, at the office or at school. This is a holiday celebrated by many across the United States, a day that allows for children (and adults) to be whomever they desire for one special day. Trick or treating can be traced back to the early 20th century. In fact, Walt Disney first introduced an animated short film in 1952 starring Donald Duck that was based on Halloween fun.

While the concept of Halloween is all about tricks, treats, and disguises, that doesn’t mean the same concept should go for treats and sweets consumed. Research indicates that 1 in 13 children have food allergies, which is estimated to be around 5.6 million children in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) In addition, there have been recent claims of unsafe treats, leading to many  parents inspecting the foods their children receive.

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As the holiday approaches around the corner, it is the perfect time to start to think about what Halloween goodies you want to hand out in your cauldron, at your children’s school, or at the workplace. The best way to ensure you are providing the safest options for the trick-or-treaters and office peers is to be sure that candy or treats do not contain any of the seven major allergens:

  • Peanut butter
  • Seeds
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Instead, think about offering treats and goodies that are allergen-friendly for all to enjoy, some suggestions may include:

  • Clementines or juice boxes
  • Glow bracelets and/or necklaces
  • Stamps and stickers
  • Bouncy balls or temporary tattoos
  • Allergy friendly candies (e.g., Swedish fish, starburst, dots, skittles)
  • Fruit snacks

Regardless if your child or coworkers have known food allergies or not, it is still best to check and/or label all the goodies prior to consumption to ensure food safety. 

Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida.

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