Nut allergies "can be a life-or-death situation," says Dr. Sean Cahill, an associate professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Though having a nut allergy is serious, kids should still be able to have fun. The key is education. Make sure your child knows what he or she can eat," Cahill adds. He offered the following suggestions for keeping children safe at Halloween parties:
- Before the party, let the host know about your child's allergy and what specific foods must be avoided.
- Offer to help wipe down surfaces. Along with ingestion, touching surfaces exposed to nuts, not inhaling nut particles, is what causes allergic reactions. Pans, dishes and serving utensils should be thoroughly cleaned if previously used on dishes prepared with nuts.
- Bring your own treats to the party if you're not sure about the safety of what's being served. If a label says a food has been made on the same machine as products with nuts, don't buy it. If a label says a food has been made in the same plant as products with nuts, it's likely safe.
- If you have a young child, take nut-free candy to neighbors before Halloween and then take your child to those houses on the big night.
- When your child returns home from trick-or-treating, immediately remove all treats with nuts or those that could cause a reaction. If in doubt, get rid of the candy.
- If you or anyone else eats a product with nuts, brush your teeth and wash your hands before hugging or kissing a child with a nut allergy.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about food allergies.