Teal Pumpkin Project grows in popularity as food allergies increase

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -- Many people are in the spooky spirit this holiday season, but for families of children with food allergies, Halloween can be extra scary.

That's why some parents are taking an extra step to protect kids from potentially harmful candies by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This Halloween, a teal colored pumpkin setting on a doorstep will send a message of safety. It shows trick-or-treaters that that home offers something besides sweets treats.

"Things like toys and erasers," said Dr. Min-Tu, an allergist at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri.

Dr. Le says food allergies have increased by about two or three times in the last 10 years. That's why, she says, being extra careful about candy is key.

"To be very safe, we actually recommend that most of our peanut and tree nut allergy patients not to eat anything that they get on Halloween, just because it's hard to know what is safe and what isn't," Dr. Le said.

She says everyone can help keep kids safe by painting or buying a teal pumpkin and buying something a little different to hand out, other than candy.

"That indicates that you have non-food items that you give to the trick-or-treaters when they come by," Dr. Le said.

At Price Cutter, many customers are choosing safety first. Many candy products are plainly packaged "Peanut Free" or "Tree Nut Free." The store manager says buying trends reflect the growing food allergy issue.

"Parents are going towards the items that don't have the nuts in them to avoid the allergens," Mike Collier said.

Dr. Le suggests that families of children with food allergies keep an EpiPen handy this holiday.

If you're looking to trick-or-treat at homes that participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project or to register your home, check out the map at this website: www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project/map

Read the original version of this article at ky3.com.