Fake Danger vs Real Danger

My Halloween pet peeve?  I’m going to echo Beth-Anne here, and say folks who gripe about having to take extra care because of kids with food allergies. 

Tell me if I’m on the right track with this:  most of you would notice and be alarmed if your kids’ Halloween candy wrappers appeared tampered with, right?  You have an actual hairs-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck reaction just thinking about it.  And you do think about it, right?  We have individually-wrapped everything because of the fear that some crazy will lace candy with cyanide.   Most of us also know that poisoned candy is an urban myth.  (See Snopes for more.)  But, but, but WHAT IF?  And the fear of the infinitesimally small chance that someone has gone postal keeps us filling up landfills with millions of wrappers.  The effect on the environment is real.  The threat of poisoning?  Not so much.

There is, however, a very good chance that a child in your neighbourhood will have an allergic reaction to something in his or her Halloween bag this year, and this is a very good reason to make sure that nutty treats stay in their landfill-filling wrappers.  It is also a very good reason to buy nut-free treats.  Why should the rest of the world adjust because of allergic kids?  Because, unlike the threat of cyanide, their illness is real

It has been estimated that 3% to 4% of Canadians representing approximately 1.3 million people have a food allergy (Source: Health Canada).  These statistics are similar to recent U.S. data, which suggest that nearly 4% of the US population, or 1 in 25 Americans, is at risk for food allergy alone, a rate much higher than noted in the past.

from Anaphylaxis Canada

I know it’s a pain; I know it’s not fair; I know how much you love peanuts.  I do too.  But to underplay the danger of allergens, as people regularly do at this time of year, really does not serve the community well.  Yes, there is only a very a small chance that a child will actually die from eating a nut this year, but the less dire outcomes of hives, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and trips to the ER are still too high a price to pay for carelessness. 

I don’t expect my neighbours to provide nut-free treats at the door at Halloween.  Vetting the loot bag and tossing the dangerous stuff is part of our Halloween routine.  Those of us with kids with allergies will find fun stuff for our kids to trade for.  Just please don’t make us listen to you gripe about groundless hysteria.  It’s real for us, and it’s real for 1 out of 25 kids who will come to your door.

image credit


4 thoughts on “Fake Danger vs Real Danger

  1. I just wonder: if you have the choice between a box of little, wrapped, name-brand candies that are peanut-free and a box of little, wrapped, name-brand candies that are not… why not go with the peanut-free? Costs the same.

  2. I read Ted’s comment with guilt. Even though my children don’t have food allergies, I too get really annoyed with people who gripe about allergy issues, yet I just realized that the big box of Halloween treats my husband brought home a few days ago isn’t peanut-free, and I didn’t even notice! In his defense, we live on a tucked-away street and so it’s usually only the children on the street who come by–none of whom have food allergies–and what’s more, between me and him, the odds of that box lasting until Halloween are really small, so we can pick up something nut-free on the weekend. (That said, my older daughter’s best friend is gluten-intolerant, and so if she were coming by, we would also want to have the right type of M&Ms on-hand, because although they’re not suitable for nut-allergic children, they are one of the few Halloween treats that are fine for children who can’t handle even trace amounts of gluten.)

  3. I don’t actually think that all houses should have nut-free treats. Variety is the spice of life, and all that, and kids who can eat nuts should enjoy them. Kids who are allergic can trade. They might, hypothetically, have a mother who loves peanut butter cups, and who might, hypotheically, do a trade for something safe and then run to a safe spot to scarf them down herself.

  4. Postscript: at one house, my children were asked if they had any allergies. They don’t, so I’m not sure what the plan was if they did, but maybe they had two bowls of candy, one for children with nut allergies and one for children without? Interesting, though, that it came up. (Though wouldn’t it be easier just to buy nut-free stuff for all?)

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