[It was written before the coronavirus several years ago, but masks are essential now, and some, like Mayo, recommend skipping it entirely in 2020. Just to be safe.]
Candy and food safety is a huge concern during the Halloween season. Whether it’s door-to-door or giveaways collected at a Halloween party, there are ways to avoid potential problems. Above all, use common sense. If anything is warning you to avoid eating it or let your child eat it, don’t ignore it. If in doubt, throw it out.
Halloween candy safety tips
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It should be a rule of thumb by now, but if not, know that your child should not eat a single candy until you have inspected it. It means that if your little ghoul is begging for a piece of his collected loot, stop and used a flashlight to check the packaging before handing it over. If you’re worried your child might be too tempted to resist, offer to carry their bag of treats while going door-to-door.
To avoid the temptation, there are two other things to try. The first is to make sure your child has eaten well before leaving so that they have a full tummy and are not as likely to want to snack. Also, bring some of your candy from home and if your child is going to have a sugary snack, make sure it’s one of your own from home.
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When you get home, look at each candy. Discoloured, punctured or torn packaging should be discarded. Goodies without packaging are not an option. Even if the packaging fell off at some point during the night during the trick-or-treat, it could mean that it could be dirty or that the packaging was tampered with initially.
Also, make sure your child’s candy doesn’t pose a choking hazard. Avoid chewing gum or jawbone type selections which can become a problem. It is especially true for young children. By the way, also make sure that the pets in the family don’t end up chewing chocolate, raisins, or macadamia nuts. Dogs & cats can have a severe and often fatal reaction to these types of foods.
Food safety tips for Halloween
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Some people choose to donate fruit or baked goods during Halloween as opposed to candy. These options need just as much consideration before allowing your child to ingest them. As a rule of thumb, don’t even accept baked goods from someone you don’t know. You can politely decline to say that they might become a mess in the bag or that your child is known to be sick from this particular type of baking. If nothing else, set it aside from the rest of the loot to get rid of it ASAP.
Check the fruit for injection or stinging wounds or the presence of foreign objects. Wash the item, feel and inspect the skin, and cut it into slices to save the service. If you cannot be sure, discard the item. There’s a lot more to choose from for your child, and a thrown item or two won’t do much damage to their collected stash.
Some other notes on candy and food safety
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Avoid offering or cooking anything that could pose an allergy risk to someone else’s child. Try to find a recipe without ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction.
Food safety also means limiting sweets to prevent a child from having a stomach ache or getting sick. Also, if you’re worried about the door-to-door part of Halloween, make other arrangements. Go for a party hosted by someone you know and trust, hosted by a mall, or throw your monster party for the holidays.
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Also, as horrible as it sounds, keep the poison control number handy just in case. Don’t let your child ingest anything right before bed, so you can watch them carefully after eating treats. Again, this can help prevent a child from getting sick in the middle of the night. Keep the candy stash out of a child’s reach so they won’t be tempted to devour a bag of treats in the middle of the night. It also means keeping any food that you left from the reserve that you gave to the youngsters.
The idea is to be safe, secure and smart, but not paranoid. Don’t frighten your child or stress yourself by going too far with the process of collecting and consuming candy. On the other hand, trust your instincts. Halloween candy and food safety are supposed to be guidelines to make the holidays fun but safe for everyone.