Teal pumpkins to raise awareness about food allergies this Halloween

Halloween can be a tough time for children with food allergies and their families, but one organization in Canada is trying to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive this year.

Allergy Canada is encouraging Canadians to place a teal-coloured pumpkin in front of their home as part of the Teal Pumpkin Project to show they have non-food treats available for children with food allergies and other kids for whom candy is not an option.

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The project is an international initiative, but launched in the United States last year to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.

Beatrice Povolo with Food Allergy Canada says this is the first time teal pumpkins will show up on people’s porches in Canada.

“There are 2.5 million people in Canada who are affected by food allergies, more than 300,000 of them are children” says Povolo. “It is a growing public health issue that we don’t have a cure for and avoiding what you are allergic to is key.”

To raise awareness, people are asked to paint their pumpkin teal and provide non-food treats like stickers, glow sticks and playing cards.

Teal is the designated colour for food allergy and anaphylaxis awareness.

Home owners can also display a teal pumpkin poster in their window to explain their intentions and pledge to participate online.

Allergy Canada suggests the following tips for parents to keep their home “allergy-safe” this Halloween:

Make sure an adult is with younger children at all timesRemind children of the no-eating rule while they are out trick-or-treatingServe a hearty dinner to lessen the temptation of snacking while outHave kids carry their auto-injector (EpiPen® or Allerject™) with them and wear MedicAlert® identificationGet your kids to wash their hands as soon as they get homeCheck all treats at homeHave the kids read all ingredient labels, with adult supervision, to check for their allergensRemember- no label, no candy!Sort the treats into three piles- keep, give away (your work, local food bank, seniors homes) or throw out

Tips for the community:

Ask when kids come to the door: “Does anyone have a food allergy?”Be prepared – have food packages/labels nearby, so you can check ingredients if askedThink outside the candy box – have non-candy items, such as stickers and pencils, in case your treats are not suitable for kids with certain allergies

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