Halloween candy may present health risks to children with food allergies. Some parents choose to celebrate TEALOWEEN with teal pumpkins to encourage non-food treats. Teal is the color of food allergy awareness. Teal Pumpkins represent the availability of non-food tricks/treats so kids with food allergies or other dietary restrictions can safely be included.
If you choose to celebrate Halloween with candy, you must read the full product label every time. Food manufacturers can change ingredients and processes at any time. If an item does not have a label, do not let your child eat it, even if it's something they have eaten safely before. Below are some label reading tricks to help make sure treats are safe for your child. One way to make trick-or-treating safer is to trade your child's candy for safe treats and non-food treats.
U.S. law requires most foods to list eight major allergens on a label: milk, soy, egg, peanut, tree nut, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish. This law does not regulate or require precautionary advisory labels such as "may contain" or "processed in a facility with."
The labels shown below are examples of what to watch for when choosing safe candy. Because food manufacturers can make changes at any time (and often do), the specific items and labels below may change but the lessons still apply.
Trick #1: Different sizes of the same candy may have different ingredients or advisory labeling
Candy that comes in large and “mini” sizes may have different ingredients.
The smaller size Laffy Taffy does not have egg on the ingredient list, but it does have soy lecithin that the larger size does not.
Different size candies can be produced on different lines with different potential for cross contamination.
Hershey's adds an advisory label when there is a concern about cross contamination with allergens. Their full-size bar does not have any warning. Their snack size bar has advisory labeling that it is processed on the same equipment as almond.
Trick #2: Different packages of the same candy may have different labeling
Companies may have different facilities that process different allergens. Trolli® Sour Bite Crawlers have different labels because they are made in different facilities. Ferrara Candy Company said the labeling depends on where the candy is made.
The 30.4-ounce bag does not have a "may contain" statement. The label for the 22-ounce bag has an advisory statement about other allergens in the facility.
This can also happen with individual packages that are not labeled for resale. The outer package of this Trolli mix states that all of the products are made in a facility that processes allergens.
Some of the individually-packaged items in the mix have the advisory statement on the label while other items do not. Always be sure to check the information on the outer package.
Trick #3: Individually-wrapped treats can be packaged in a larger bag - make sure the inner and outer labels match
The outer package of Black Forest Organic™ Gummy Mix says that the package contains Gummy Bears, Gummy Worms and Gummy Bats. The package actually contains Sour Heads and not Gummy Bats.
The ingredients for the Sour Heads are not on the outer package or on the individual package. The ingredients for the Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms are on both the outer package and the individual package.
Trick #4: Repackaged candy may have different labels than the candy made and sold directly by the company
Candy can be repackaged by other companies to make assortment packs. The allergen statement may change because the packaging company processes different allergens than the original candy maker. This is important because you will not know what kind of package the candy has come from unless you purchase it yourself.
Both Smarties® and Dum Dums® are free of major allergens. The labeling on this package indicates what they are free from.
A different assortment that includes Smarties® says that all the candy was processed in a facility that does have allergens.
Dum Dums® packages state their pops are free of the major allergens. However, their candies may get repackaged by other companies. Spangler (the maker of Dum Dums) has information on their website about how to tell if your candy was bagged directly by Spangler or repackaged by another company.
Trick #5: Packages may use terms like “allergy safe,” “classroom safe” or “allergy free” but may still contain allergens
Some companies may use marketing terms like these, but you still need to read the full ingredients label. There are eight foods that are currently considered major allergens by the FDA, but over 180 have triggered allergic responses.
In this example, Sixlets are labeled as "classroom safe." The package also contains the SnackSafely logo. This may lead consumers to think this product is "safe for all kids." SnackSafely issued a label warning to consumers about the confusion. Sixlets contain milk and soy (both are major allergens) and would not be safe for children allergic to those foods.
The product is free of peanuts and gluten, but contains milk and soy.
Trick #6: Different varieties of the same candy may have different ingredients
When this happens, it is easy to confuse two varieties of candy for each other. This can also happen with seasonal or holiday varieties of candies.
Tic Tacs® do not normally contain milk. The holiday Candy Cane version contains milk.
Updated September 2019