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Lots of Tricks but Not Many Treats

Lots of Tricks but Not Many Treats for Children with Food Allergies

Halloween can be a tricky time without many treats for the hundreds of children that suffer from food allergies. Hidden inside that delicious looking treat could be an ingredient that could trigger a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

Tasha Kuypers, aged eleven, is allergic to peanut and soy and says she won’t be eating any lollies this Halloween because she doesn’t feel safe, even if the lollies are wrapped.

“I don’t feel left out because the fun of Halloween is dressing up and hanging out with friends,” she says. “My friends completely understand about my food allergies and are really good about it.”

Parents of children with food allergies need to be inventive to come up with different treats to keep their children happy and safe. “Trade banks” where allergen- containing sweets can be traded for other treats, such as stickers or toys, are a great idea. Home made goodies free from allergens are another good idea to keep children safe.

Vigilance in checking treat bags is essential to ensure treats without ingredient labels can be discarded and the ones with labels can be checked for safety. It is important to note that ingredients can vary between different sizes of the same product – such as full-size candy bars and their miniature versions, which are not always labeled individually.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include hives; eczema; swelling of the lips, tongue, face and other parts of the body; shortness of breath; wheezing; abdominal pain; vomiting; diarrhoea; hay fever symptoms; and anaphylaxis – a life-threatening reaction requiring emergency treatment and hospital care. Sufferers often carry a life-saving injection of adrenaline (e.g., EpiPen) with them at all times.

Allergy New Zealand urges children and teens with severe allergies to watch out for hidden foods that could trigger an allergic reaction, and to carry an epinephrine (adrenaline) Epi-Pen with them at all times.

Eight foods account for 90 percent of allergic reactions: peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans etc), fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy and wheat. For people with severe food allergies, eating even a small amount of these foods could start a life-threatening reaction.

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