Celebrating Halloween While Living With Food Allergies

As trick-or-treaters head door to door this Halloween, remember that some of them may have food allergies. Learn about common food allergies and how families handing out candy and seeking it can have a fun and safe holiday.

Oct. 27, 2023 3   min read

A child in a homemade ghost Halloween costume waves while holding a pumpkin in front of a teal background

Halloween season is upon us and millions of children will soon be out with friends and family members, running from house to house to collect sweets and treats from their neighbors.

For the 1 in every 13 children who have a food allergy, getting Halloween candy and treats with unknown ingredients has the potential to raise serious health concerns.

Common allergens

As many as 32 million Americans have a food allergy – some of them serious and potentially life-threatening allergies.

Milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, and sesame are some of the most common allergies for children, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Unfortunately, many candies and treats handed out on Halloween contain ingredients that are unsafe for children with these allergies.

Food allergies need to be properly diagnosed by a qualified allergist. For people who self-diagnose allergies – especially in children – a potentially inaccurate diagnosis can lead to inadequate nutrition or unnecessary dietary restrictions.

Call To Schedule A Pediatric Allergy Consultation

“It’s important to have a confirmed allergy diagnosis by a trained professional,” said S. Shahzad Mustafa, MD, an allergy and immunology specialist with Rochester Regional Health. “Diagnosing allergies based on history alone, or even with skin testing or bloodwork, has the potential to over-diagnose food allergies by as much as 80-90 percent. An accurate diagnosis is imperative, as there are a number of therapies that allergists can recommend to parents and families of children who have certain food allergies.”

How Oral Immunotherapy Can Help Young Children With Peanut Allergies

Allergy-friendly Halloween

There are things that people can do to make Halloween friendly to people with allergies – both for trick-or-treaters and those handing out candy.


No eating while trick or treating

This is a good rule to have so you know what your child is consuming. Make sure your child knows how important this is for their own safety.

Read the labels

Know what is in each candy being handed out. Sometimes different sized candies have different ingredients; just because you know what is in one size of one type of candy doesn’t mean you know what ingredients are in the other sizes. Be wary about your child consuming candies that are not in proper packaging.

Be ready, just in case

Despite everyone’s best efforts, there might be a situation where your child needs medical attention. Carry an epinephrine auto-injector and/or appropriate medication in case of an allergic reaction.


Ask your neighbors

If a family who will be stopping by your house on Halloween night has a child with an allergy, it can be helpful to let them know you will have alternative treats for their child.

The Teal Pumpkin Project

One great way to let your community know that your home is safe for children with food allergies is to display a teal pumpkin outside your home. People taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project have safe treats or knick-knacks for children.

“Children with food allergies can absolutely still have a fun night out with family and friends,” Dr. Mustafa said. “Take the precautions that are needed for your child or your neighbor’s children and be mindful of them while out for Halloween.”

NEXT STEPS Allergy Care Just For Kids

Many things can be an allergen or cause an allergic reaction. For that reason, many kids experience allergies. Our Pediatric Allergy Program providers offer compassionate and comprehensive services for the diagnosis and treatment of all pediatric allergic problems. If you think your child may have allergies, now is the time to schedule a consultation.

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Syed S. Mustafa, MD
Pediatrics - Pediatric Allergy/Immunology, Allergy And Immunology
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