Whether you are giving out treats or helping your young goblin collect them, Iowa State University Extension food science specialist Sam Beattie suggests a few dos and don'ts to reduce the possibility of eating unsafe foods.
"When deciding what to offer the young monsters who ring your doorbell, remember that traditional homemade favorites are no longer acceptable," Beattie said. "Instead, consider boxes of raisins or other dried fruits, low fat microwave popcorn, packaged fruit leathers and coupons or other non-food items."
Also, be aware that some kids may have serious reactions to foods containing peanuts, nuts or other allergenic ingredients.
"As head goblins, parents share responsibility for the goodies that their goblins eat," Beattie said. "Remind kids to politely decline homemade treats, or food items that are not correctly wrapped. Also remind them that you want to see all the treats they get so they shouldn't eat any until they return home." At home, inspect all candy for torn or damaged packaging, pinholes, or anything else that looks suspicious. And, if your child has a food allergy, pay particular attention to goodies that may contain allergens, such as peanuts, nuts, wheat or dairy products.
"If you don't find the information you need on the package, you may need to check the manufacturer's web site," Beattie said. "Also remember that for littlest goblins, caramel candies, peanuts and gum may pose a choking hazard." If you are planning a party, Beattie also suggests serving pasteurized, rather than fresh pressed apple cider. Unpasteurized apple cider may cause serious illness in children and adults.
"Bobbing for apples is another possible concern." Beattie said. "Mucous and saliva, which will wind up in the bobbing bucket, are known sources of cold and flu viruses."
For more information about food safety issues, visit the Iowa Food Safety Task Force web site at www.iowafoodsafety.org.