Trick or Treat…with a food allergy or intolerance?

It’s that time of year when witches, ghosts and all sorts of spooky creatures are hailing us from shop windows and supermarket shelves reminding us that Halloween is almost here. Kids are busily choosing their costumes and selecting their ‘goodie bag’ to carry the numerous sweets they receive when Trick or Treating around the neighbourhood.

Kids really enjoy the fun aspect of Halloween and over the past few years trick or treating has crept into our culture. But how safe is this for your child if they have a serious food allergy or intolerance?

It is very important for these children to be included in activities with their peers and not made to feel different so it’s a case of managing the risk.

Buy some allergen free snacks that your child can eat safely. Before the big event and without your child’s knowledge, share these around some neighbours you know and with whom your child will be calling, to make sure they will have some ‘goodies’ that are safe for them to eat.

Ensure your child returns home to empty their trick or treat bag before sampling and together you can decide which is safe for them. This also helps to educate your child and teaches them safety procedures.

monkey nutsFor nut allergic children it is important they understand not to accept nuts that are unpackaged. Quite often children do not like to talk about their allergies/intolerances so if someone does include packaged nuts and they didn’t want to explain why they couldn’t eat them it can be removed later.

As nuts are so prevalent at Halloween it’s a good idea to wipe down all treats with a baby wipe in case they have some allergen on them from the person’s hands. This is equally important if your child is seriously allergic to other food allergens as the packaging may have traces of milk or egg, etc.

There is no need for your child to miss out on apple tart and other Halloween treats as they can all be made safely by using alternative ingredients eg soya, rice or oat milk instead of cow’s or goat’s milk, dairy free spreads, apple puree or grated apple as a substitute for egg in buns, pancakes, etc. Always check the ingredients on the packaging and the Allergen Advice. If you are still unsure contact the manufacturers.

halloween pumpkin and halloween milk shakesIt is very important to find out what foods your child can eat as opposed to constantly emphasising what they can’t eat. It’s a good idea generally to leave suitable snacks wherever the children are likely to visit: relatives and friends may not fully appreciate the risks of exposure to food allergens.

For the past eight years Allergy NI has organised a ‘nut free’ Children’s Halloween Party which is attended by around sixty children and their parents. It is a mammoth task but well worth it to see the children stacking their plates and trying new foods, which they are often reluctant to do at home. We try to cater for all allergies so that children do not have to bring their own food. While we purchase some items ourselves, several of our members and myself bake using recipes from our allergen free cookbook, ‘Parties, Picnics and Packed Lunches’ which, I am happy to report, are in constant use with our own families.

Have a safe and fun Halloween.


Posted: 25/10/2013 10:55:26 by Maureen Paul
Filed under: Allergens, Children, Halloween, Intolerances, Nuts, Treats

About Me

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Maureen Paul
I’m the CE of Allergy NI. We are a small charity based in Newtownabbey, County Antrim but are involved in a lot of vital support for children and families with serious or potentially life-threatening allergies. I myself have multiple food allergies including peanuts, egg, soya, suphites and salicylates so I fully understand the difficulties our members experience on a daily basis. As my role is very demanding I like to relax by walking, baking, and regular trips to Malahide; a great place to chill out!