Do you know what a teal pumpkin represents?
For many children, Halloween means more treats than tricks. But for children with a food allergy, the holiday can certainly be tricky.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 13 children has a food allergy. Some of the most common allergens like milk, eggs and peanuts are found in many candies and treats. Because there is no cure for food allergies, the safest way to prevent a reaction is avoidance, which can be difficult when it comes to trick-or-treating.
In 2014, a Tennessee mother of a child with food allergies placed a teal pumpkin in front of her home and passed out non-food items along with candy. Over the past eight years, the practice, now referred to as the “Teal Pumpkin Project,” has spread across the nation. Participants place a teal pumpkin on their porch and offer non-food items for those trick-or-treaters with food allergies.
“The use of teal pumpkins outside homes is a great way to show children and teens they can feel safe and included while still having fun with friends and family,” says Dr. Emma Olivera, a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Hospital. “Trick-or-treaters might expect items like stickers, games or small toys.”
Dr. Olivera offers the following tips for keeping children with food allergies safe this Halloween:
- Encourage a strict policy of not eating food treats while out trick-or-treating. It’s better to wait until a child gets home so parents can review the ingredient labels first.
- Do not eat any treats without an ingredient label.
- Read all labels closely, as some ingredients may vary, including a brand’s “fun size” and “full size” item.
- Always have an epinephrine auto-injector on hand if one was prescribed by the child’s pediatrician or health care provider.
Anyone can participate in offering non-food items along with candy to trick or treaters. More information about the Teal Pumpkin Project is available by visiting Food Allergy Research & Education’s website.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.