Halloween isn't so fun when a sliver of peanut can land a child in the emergency room with anaphylaxis.
That can be the frightening outcome of the candy-coated holiday for the 5.9 million kids 17 and younger who suffer from food hypersensitivities, according to the Food Allergy Research and Education organization.
Every three minutes one child goes to the ER for food allergy reactions, said Dr. Danny Soteres of Asthma & Allergy Associates in Colorado Springs.
"Many candies are made in factories with peanuts or have cross-contamination with things," he said. "We don't have to celebrate with food. A lot of kids deal with this in schools as well."
Three years ago, FARE launched a campaign to help those kids and their ever apprehensive parents bring a little joy back into the night of sugar gluttony. Called the Teal Pumpkin Project, it asks homeowners to hang a pre-printed flyer on their door or put out a teal pumpkin (easily purchased at a craft store) to signal that the home is friendly to trick-or-treaters with allergies.
Instead of treats filled with the top five offenders - egg, milk, wheat, soy and tree nuts, including peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts - homeowners are encouraged to pass out toys and other nonedible treats, such as tattoos, bubbles, bouncy balls, spider rings, stickers, whistles and glow sticks.
"It's just changing the paradigm from it has to be candy," Soteres said. "I hate it when my kids come home with all this candy. I'd appreciate more rub-on tattoos. It's a nice alternative for kids with allergies."
Free Teal Pumpkin Project signs are available at the two Asthma & Allergy Associates locations through Tuesday. Check their website at aacos.com for hours.