Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies. Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies.
In Australia, food allergy is estimated to affect 1-2% of adults and 4-8% of children under 5 years of age, according to the South Australian Department of Health (1).
The most common triggers of allergic reactions in childhood are egg, peanuts, tree nuts and cow’s milk. Unfortunately for many Australian children, this rules out many sweets, lollies and chocolates offered to little ghosts and ghouls trick-or-treating at Halloween.
The Teal Pumpkin Project, initiated by the Food Allergy Research Organization in the United States, encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. The now world-wide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, by encouraging households to offer a combination of food and non-food treats.
Australian based website TrickorTreatMe is supporting the Teal Pumpkin project by allowing households to nominate as an allergy friendly household offering non-food treats. Those households are displayed as teal pumpkins on the TrickorTreatMe map.
“Halloween is becoming more popular every year in Australia. The Teal Pumpkin project allows kids with allergies to participate freely in the fun of Trick or Treating, without feeling like they are missing out.” said TrickorTreatMe creator, Krista Davies. “As the parent of a child with food allergies, I am keenly aware of how much they miss out on, and so I’m very proud to support the Teal Pumpkin Project”
Non-food treats recommended by the Food Allergy Research and Education organization include glow sticks, pencils, pens, crayons or markers, bubbles, erasers or pencil toppers, mini slinkies, whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers, bouncy balls, spider rings, vampire fangs, mini notepads, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers or fake tattoos. The project does not aim to replace lollies as the traditional Halloween treat, but homes wishing to offer both are encouraged to keep the two in separate bowls.
Households keen to participate should register on TrickorTreatMe.com as a Halloween friendly household, and tick the Allergy Options box, along with their visit times. Their homes will display as a teal pumpkin, and families with allergic children can choose safe trick or treating options. Families can then use the map to find safe trick or treating options.
With more and more Australian families getting involved in Halloween and Trick or Treating, the teal pumpkin project offers a safe and inclusive alternative for all Aussie kids to be involved.