Tips to keep Halloween safe and fun for everyone

Kids and adults alike should keep the following in mind when celebrating Halloween festivities.

It’s the time of the year again – little ones going to trick-or-treat and adults hosting parties for a Happy Halloween. Food safety can become an issue if we don’t think things through before the event.

Tips to keep your children from contaminated treats:
  • Children should wait until they get home from Trick-or-Treating so their parents can check the candy before they eat it. Feeding children a light dinner or snack before heading out can help curb the temptation to snack while out.
  • Homemade treats should be discarded.
  • If treats show signs of tampering after inspecting, throw them away. Signs can be such things as an unusual appearance, discoloration, tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers - anything that looks suspicious.
  • Discard any goodies with open or torn wrapping.
  • If juice or cider is served to children at home or at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will say so on the label.
  • If children in your household have food allergies make sure to read ingredients for possible allergens. For nut allergies look for warnings that may indicate that the candy was produced on the same equipment as nut-containing products.

Adults also need to be protected from foodborne illness and contamination.

Tips to keep those who aren’t trick-or-treating from having problems:
  • If you are having food catered, make sure you are working with a reputable caterer that has properly working chafing dishes and/or slow cookers to keep hot foods hot. They should be certified in food safety practices.
  • If preparing your own tasty treats make sure to wash your hands with hot soapy water for twenty seconds before handling food.
  • Hot foods should be kept at the safe temperature of 140°F or above. MSU Extension recommends you use a thermometer to check, and make adjustments to keep the food hot.
  • Cold foods need to be kept cold. There should be plenty of room in your refrigerator to store cold food before, during, and after the party, and your refrigerator should be 40°F or cooler to prevent bacterial growth. Serve cold foods over ice, and do not leave out at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Store and cool drinks in a cooler with ice if there isn’t room in your refrigerator – not on a back porch.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Halloween without tummy aches. If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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