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K-State Today

October 28, 2011

Skip the scary: Halloween safety tips protect holiday goblins

Submitted by Nancy Peterson

The excitement in choosing a costume and parading among neighbors and friends can distract children and make them more vulnerable to food-related hazards.

“Limiting trick or treating to your immediate neighborhood or a community-sponsored event is recommended,” said Karen Blakeslee, K-State Research and Extension food scientist, who urged parents and children to be cautious with holiday foods:

* Offer a light meal or snack prior to trick-or-treating or other holiday event so that children will be less hungry, less likely to eat on the run and less likely to sample unknown treats.

* Encourage children to respectfully decline candy and other foods that are not commercially packaged. Examples might include a homemade caramel apple or popcorn ball, or a handful of peanuts or candy corn.

* Be ready and waiting to help trick-or-treaters sort candy and discard treats containing known allergens -- nuts, for example -- and others that could cause choking, such as hard candy or a small toy; or injury, such as a sharp pencil.

* Encourage children to choose preferred treats and enjoy one or two before storing candy out of site.

* Integrate holiday candy into meals and snacks over the next few weeks to manage the sweets and extend holiday enjoyment.

At community or other events, Blakeslee also advises checking to make sure any apple cider served is pateurized and, if bobbing for apples, to ensure apples have been washed before they were added to the tub.

At parties, “scare” bacteria away by keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, said Blakeslee, who advised keeping trays of party foods stored safely until goblins arrive and to not leave perishable food at room temperature for more than two hours.

More information about food science and safety is available at K-State Research and Extension offices throughout the state and online: here and at the Research and Extension Rapid Reponse Center.