Here are some simple steps, courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help children and parents have a fun – and safe – Halloween:
- Children shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating. Urge your children to wait until they get home and you have had a chance to inspect the contents of their “goody bags.”
- To help prevent children from snacking, give them a light meal or snack before they head out — don’t send them out on an empty stomach.
- Tell children not to accept — and especially not to eat — anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
- If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will state it on the label.
- No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter.
- Before going bobbing for apples, an all-time favorite Halloween game, reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
- “Scare” bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include, for example, finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings. Cold temperatures help keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying. And don’t leave the food at room temperature for more than two hours.
The increasing availability of marijuana-infused edibles that look like candy is prompting warnings from law enforcement in some parts of the country. There are treats out there now containing cannabis that look like gummy candy, as well as pot-infused chocolates, mints and others, so take a close look before eating unfamiliar treats or allowing your child to do so. FDA is also reminding the public that consumption of too much black licorice can be bad for some people, particularly those older than 40 who have heart problems. The agency notes, however, that a person would have to eat quite a bit of it in order to develop serious issues.