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Halloween Safety: Teal Pumpkin Project

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October 16, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today, we're talking about Halloween safety and the Teal Pumpkin Project. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Abbey Schnedler, Mississippi State University Extension Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion apprentice.

Abbey, Halloween is a fun time of the year for families. However, I know there can be many risks associated with this holiday and concerns of food safety for children. Could you share some tips with our listeners who are participating this year?

Abbey Schnedler: Yes, Amy. Halloween can be a tricky holiday for some families when it comes to general safety and food safety. The FDA and CDC have many helpful tips for parents of trick-or-treaters, and we want to remind holiday participants some tips and extra precautions to keep loved ones safe.

One tip is to attach reflective tape to your children's costumes or carry a flashlight to stay safe while crossing the street, always stay in a group, and for adults to accompany younger children.

Amy Myers: That is a good reminder to share with parents for general safety. There is often conversation about Halloween candy and food safety. Can you talk to me a little about this?

Abbey Schnedler: The FDA urges parents to inspect candy before letting children eat it. When inspecting, you should always look for signs of tampering, such as ripped wrappers. If anything looks suspicious, it should be discarded. Also, no homemade items should be accepted unless you know the person who made the treats.

An additional potential problem is that most people don't think about candy and the potential for food allergens. Since many of the miniature candies do not contain labels, it can be difficult for people to identify potential allergens in the candy.

Amy Myers: Can you talk more about food allergies and the impact on the U.S. population?

Abbey Schnedler: The most common allergies that children face includes wheat, dairy, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, for example, pecans, walnuts, and coconut, shellfish, and fish. These allergens are known as the "big eight" allergens, as these foods account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions in food.

The severity of an allergic reaction can vary. However, the most severe reaction can be life-threatening. In the U.S., one in 13 children have a food allergy, and even a tiny amount of this allergen has a potential to cause a severe reaction. Many popular Halloween candies usually contain one, if not many, of these allergies. Due to their sensitivities, many children that have allergies cannot participate in the Halloween holiday or cannot eat or enjoy any treats.

Amy Myers: I have not thought about how it could affect children with food allergies. Are there any current initiatives to include children with food allergies into the Halloween festivities?

Abbey Schnedler: The Food Allergy Research and Education Organization promotes the Teal Pumpkin Project. Since many traditional Halloween treats aren't safe, the Teal Pumpkin Project's goal is to promote safety and inclusion for families managing food allergies or any other condition that would limit a child from being able to eat candy.

Amy Myers: What a great program. How do our listeners become involved?

Abbey Schnedler: Participation is simple. All you have to do is provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters to have. You can also advertise that you are taking part of the project by placing a teal pumpkin outside your house or by printing off a free sign off the program website. There is also a map online at where you can choose to add your home to a map for people to find.

Amy Myers: Do they give any recommendations of what to hand out instead of candy?

Abbey Schnedler: There are many items you can choose to buy at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops, which offer items you can buy in bulk for a low price. These items can be handed out to all trick-or-treaters or made available in a separate bowl from candy if you choose to hand out both options. Items like glow-sticks, festive jewelry, small toys like cars or bouncy balls, or even coloring books, are a low-cost item that you could choose to hand out.

Amy Myers: This is such a great program to raise awareness on food allergies and allow all children to have the chance to participate in the holiday. This is also a really good way to make Halloween a little bit healthier.

Abbey Schnedler: Exactly. It can be a fun treat for children to choose whether if they want candy or something else. To find more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project or food allergies in children, you can visit They have free resources to check out and get prepared for a safe and fun holiday.

Amy Myers: Today, we've been speaking with Abbey Schnedler, Mississippi State University Extension Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion apprentice. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

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