While Halloween can be a fine holiday for children, the night can be a scary experience for the parents of children with food allergies. Allergies are on the rise-doubling over the last 10 years-according to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. About two million school-age children have a food allergy, and one child in 17 under the age of 3 is allergic.
If your child has a food allergy, you're already vigilant. But what do you do when your child wants to participate in that time-honored tradition of trick or treating?
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the most common food allergens for infants and young children are cow's milk, hen's eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnut, Brazil nut and pecan), soybeans, fish/shellfish and wheat.
A leading expert in this area is Marion Groetch, the dietitian at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She recommends that parents read labels before allowing children to enjoy their loot. "The same candy item in different sizes-full size or snack size-might contain different ingredients. Parents should remember to read all labels, even if their child has eaten the candy before." She warns that if a candy item does not have an ingredient label, it's not safe.
Groetch offers the following tips for parents to help them create safe ways to enjoy the Halloween holiday: