Halloween Food Safety Tips
Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children, and for adults! However, the excitement of Halloween shouldn't make us forget about food safety. You should also keep in mind that children with allergies and sensitivities must be especially careful before eating trick-or-treat goodies or certain foods served at Halloween social gatherings.
The following steps will help make Halloween an enjoyable experience for everyone.
- Remind children not to eat any of their collected goodies while out trick-or-treating, until they are inspected by an adult.
- Remind children not to accept-and especially not to eat-homemade candy or baked goods by people they don't know.
- Give children a snack or light dinner before they go out to help prevent them from munching while trick-or-treating. Don't send them out on an empty stomach!
- Throw away homemade candy or baked goods.
- Check all commercially wrapped treats. Throw out any treats that are not wrapped, those in torn or loose packages, or those that have small holes in the wrappers.
- Be cautious before giving young children treats that could be potential choking hazards, such as chewy candies, gum, hard candies, lollipops, peanuts, small toys or mini-cup jelly products. Depending on the size, shape, consistency and composition, mini-cup jelly products may become lodged in the throat and may be difficult to remove.
- Wash fresh fruit thoroughly. Inspect it for holes, including small punctures, and if found, do not let children or adults eat the fruit.
- Remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
Children with allergies and sensitivities
Some Halloween treats may contain ingredients that can cause severe adverse reactions in children who have allergies or sensitivities. These treats often include ingredients such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg--some of the most common food allergens.
You should therefore take the following precautions before allowing children with allergies and sensitivities to eat any Halloween goodies:
- Throw away homemade candy or baked goods.
- Read labels carefully for all commercially wrapped treats.
- Avoid products that do not have a list of ingredients. Bear in mind that Halloween candies do not always have ingredients listed on their labels.
- Avoid products with precautionary labelling ("may contain" statements).
- Do not allow your children to consume a particular product if you are unsure if it contains an allergen.
Halloween parties and food safety
When preparing or serving food at Halloween parties, it is always important to follow safe food-handling practices. Here are a few tips you should follow to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading and causing foodborne illness.
- Wash hands carefully with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure hot foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
- Keep food out of the danger zone, which is between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F), to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Keep hot food hot with warming trays, chafing dishes or crock pots at a temperature of at least 60°C (140°F).
- Keep cold food cold at 4°C (40°F) or lower by placing serving dishes on crushed ice.
- Do not add new food to a serving dish that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. Change the dish and your serving utensils.
- Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours to minimize the chance of bacteria growing.
- Consume refrigerated leftovers within 2 or 3 days.
Unpasteurized juice and cider
Do not let your children drink unpasteurized juice or cider that is served at Halloween parties unless it has been boiled and cooled down. Unpasteurized juice products can be contaminated with harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
What the Government of Canada does to keep our food supply safe
The Government of Canada is committed to food safety.
Health Canada establishes regulations and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of foods sold in Canada. Through inspection and enforcement activities, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency verifies that food sold in Canada meets Health Canada's requirements.
For more information on food safety, please visit the Government of Canada's Food Safety Portal and the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education's Be Food Safe Canada program.