UNC Health Talk

3 Ways to Avoid Halloween Food Allergy Scares

Halloween can cause more tricks than treats for kids with food allergies. If they aren’t careful, a bite into a treat that contains even a small amount of an allergen can cause a life-threatening reaction.  The good news is Halloween can be just as much fun for kids with food allergies. Here are three ways to help you and your family have a safe and happy Halloween:

1. Don’t eat treats while out and about.

Have your children wait to come home before eating any treats.

“The most important rule is that kids with food allergies should not be eating while they’re actually trick-or-treating,” says UNC Health allergist Edwin Kim, MD, MS. “Kids with food allergies should bring everything back home for their caretakers to take a look at and make sure that all these foods are safe.”

Once home, you can carefully read the labels. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, eggs, or wheat.

Throw out anything that does not have a label.

2. Accompany your children when they trick or treat.

Letting children with food allergies trick or treat on their own can be risky when it comes to food allergies.

“It’s really important to supervise when they go out because when they’re amongst each other, they’re going to be so tempted to just eat everything they see,” Dr. Kim says. “And folks who don’t live with food allergies don’t always appreciate that it doesn’t take a lot of the food to make somebody sick.”

3. Trade unsafe treats.

Have your children swap any unsafe candy for another treat such as a safe candy or a small toy.

“If your kid comes back and has a bunch of peanut-containing foods or milk-containing foods or something they cannot eat, have them trade those items so they don’t feel like they’re losing out,” Dr. Kim says.  “Take the unsafe treats out of their bag and replace them with snacks that you know are safe. That can be another way that the child doesn’t feel like they’re losing out.”


If your child isn’t feeling well, talk to your pediatrician or find one near you.