Teal Pumpkins Scare Away Food Allergy Concerns

October 8, 2014

Move over, orange and black – a new color will be shining bright this Halloween: teal. With the launch of its Teal Pumpkin Project, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is encouraging communities to start a new tradition to make Halloween a little less scary for children with food allergies. All it takes is a quick, pumpkin paint job.

“A teal pumpkin represents a home where the treats would be safe for trick-or-treaters who have food allergies. “ Mercy allergist Dr. Amit J. Shah says an average classroom has at least one student with a food allergy. “There has definitely been an increase in identified food allergies in children and adults. I’ve seen numbers indicating that from 3-10 percent of kids may have a medically significant food allergy.”

Food allergies are extremely unpredictable, and even the smallest ingestion could lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Individually wrapped treats can make it difficult for candy companies to convey which ingredients are included in a treat, so it’s important to educate children before they go door to door.

“Most candy, even if it doesn’t contain peanuts or tree nuts, is processed in factories where other candies are packaged,” added Dr. Silvia Huebner, Mercy allergist. “There is always a risk of cross-contamination, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.”

FARE suggests some of the following non-food items for those households taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project:

  • Glow sticks, bracelets or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies, spider rings, vampire fangs, mini notepads
  • Whistles, kazoos or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls, bookmarks, stickers or stencils
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins

“Non-food treats are safer – period,” said Dr. Huebner. “However, I would also avoid play-dough, because it contains wheat and could cause a minor irritation.”

“This is the first year that teal, the color of food allergy awareness, has become mainstream,” added Dr. Shah. “It was featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show and other media outlets. It’s good for the community and schools to be more aware of the prevalence of food allergies.”