Whether trick-or-treating or hosting a fall party, we all need to be careful that food poisoning doesn’t make our fall festivities scary in the worst ways. 

Follow these tips to keep family, friends and pets safe this Halloween:

  • Snacking: Children shouldn’t snack on treats from their goody bags while they’re out trick-or-treating. Give them a light meal or snack before they head out — don’t send them out on an empty stomach. If you are not escorting them, tell them to wait until they get home and let you inspect their loot before they eat any of it.
  • Safe treats: Tell children not to accept — and especially not to eat — anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. 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.
  • Food Allergies: If your child has a food allergy, check the labels to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Do not allow the child to eat any home-baked goods he or she may have received.
  • Choking hazards: If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.

Bobbing for apples is an all-time favorite Halloween game. Here are a couple of ways to prevent bacteria that can cause foodborne illness from ruining the fun.

  • 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.
  • Try this new spin on apple bobbing from FightBAC.org: Cut out lots of apples from red construction paper. On each apple, write activities for kids, such as “do 5 jumping jacks.” Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string. Let the children take turns “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple. Give children a fresh apple for participating.

Fall party tips:

  • Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
  • No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contains uncooked eggs or unbaked flour.
  • Keep all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include 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.
  • Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours (1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F).


Traditional eggnog is made with raw eggs, which just like the cookie dough, creates a potential risk of salmonella poisoning. While cooking can destroy disease-causing bacteria, consumers can still become ill if the eggnog is left at room temperature for more than two hours before being consumed. Safe alternatives are pasteurized eggnog beverages sold in grocery dairy cases, though these products should still be kept refrigerated.

Pet safety

With candy all around the house at this time of year, make sure your pets can’t get to it as chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats.

According to the American Kennel Club, signs of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 6 to 12 hours after a dog has eaten it. Older dogs and dogs with heart conditions are more at risk of sudden death from chocolate poisoning. 

The symptoms, which may last up to 72 hours, include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diahrrea
  • Restlessness
  • Increased urination
  • Tremors
  • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Collapse and death

According to PetMD, though eating chocolate is less common in cats, the toxicity is just as severe.

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