Avoid “Nightmares” on Halloween: Food Safety Tips
By Howard Seltzer, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Halloween is a fun time of year for all ages. To make sure ghosts, witches and spiders are the only things to be afraid of on Halloween, follow these food safety tips:
- Give your child a good meal before trick-or-treating to prevent them from snacking on candy and treats. Urge them to wait until they get home before eating them and let you inspect the treats in their bags.
- Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
- Inspect all treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
- Consider providing non-food treats for children that visit your home, such as coloring and activity books.
- Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
- Don't taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contain uncooked eggs
- 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 (one hour in temperatures above 90°F).
- Bobbing for apples is a favorite Halloween game. 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 a different bobbing for apples game from FightBAC.org. Cut out apples from red construction paper. Write activities for kids to do on each apple, such as “say ABCs.” Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string or make a fishing pole with a dowel rod, magnet and yarn. Let the children take turn “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple. Give children a fresh apple for participating in your food-safe version of bobbing for apples.