Teal pumpkins are being prepared in anticipation of Halloween, as part of a nationwide effort meant to raise awareness of food allergies among kids.
The initiative, which commenced last year and spanned across 7 countries, is spearheaded by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Its main purpose is to ensure that all children can have a safe and exciting trick or treat experience. It is also meant to generate wider inclusion when it comes to children that are affected by various food allergies.
By adding a teal-hued pumpkin in their front yard Halloween displays, people can show support for the cause. This decoration also indicates that the home is allergy-friendly and gives out even non-food treats for the holiday.
“It says, ‘If you have an allergy, you should feel safe trick or treating here. We have little trinkets for you. You don’t have to worry about (…) something you may be allergic to'”, explained Julie McDonald, one of the project’s organizers.
As a replacement for sweets, FARE recommends giving out inexpensive souvenirs, such as glow sticks or bracelets, spooky toys or rings, and Halloween-themed stickers, bookmarks or pencils.
Those who don’t actually have the time to purchase or paint teal-colored gourds can access the Teal Pumpkin Project website (www.foodallergy.org) , where users can download numerous stickers, flyers or signs which indicate allegiance to this initiative.
According to estimations, approximately 15 million U.S. people suffer from food allergies, and these disorders are especially common among kids, affecting one 1 in 13 of them, the equivalent of 2 in every classroom.
Even more worryingly, as the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention has revealed in a study published in 2013, the number of children affected by food allergies has escalated by around 50% between 1997 and 2011.
Acute allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, are caused by a wide variety of food products. The most commonly cited factors are peanuts, tree nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios etc.) and milk.
Upon ingesting even trace amounts of these products, an allergic person can experience severe symptoms, such as throat swelling and shortness of breath, as the airways become obstructed. In fact, once every three minutes an emergency room visit is required as a result of allergic reactions to food.
Halloween is a particularly challenging holiday for children who have to manage such health issues, since the most popular sweets and candies usually contain known allergens such as soy, wheat, nuts, milk or eggs.
As FARE explains, the dangers are elevated by the fact that sometimes sugary items don’t have clear labels showing their ingredients, and different-sized varieties of the same product can actually have distinct compositions.
Therefore, using non-food treats and signaling this by employing a teal pumpkin is a small but effective step in ensuring that Halloween can be enjoyable and safe among all kids, no matter what underlying health conditions they may have.
Image Source: FoodAllergy.Org