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    Local parents use teal pumpkins to promote food allergy awareness

    The Teal Pumpkin Project is being promoted by Food Allergy Research and Education to raise awareness to food allergies during a candy-centric holiday. Courtesy Photo

    Teal is the new orange.

    Pumpkins and gourds sacrificed to the Halloween spirit are getting a makeover on some front porches this season. But they're not just being carved. Some are being painted teal, the color of food allergy awareness.

    To further raise awareness, Food Allergy Research and Education, a nonprofit organization geared toward working on behalf of individuals with food allergies, has begun promoting the trend, encouraging families to add a teal-painted pumpkin outside their homes to promote safety for trick-or-treaters who can't eat traditional sweets.

    By putting a teal Jack-o-lantern outside the door, homeowners are saying they're handing out safe treats or even non-treat items along with the Kit-Kats and Tootsie Rolls.

    “In years past, I always loaded up the children’s bags with my favorite candy bar, Snickers. Honestly, kids with food allergies had never crossed my mind,” said Erin Danco, a Loudoun food allergy blogger, on her blog, Mrs. Food Allergy.

    “There are so many non-food items that kids would love to receive, such as stickers, bubbles, vampire fangs, stencils and other small toys. This year we’ll be loading the kids up with glow stick bracelets and necklaces!”

    According to FARE's website, 90 percent of allergic reactions to food are caused by peanuts, tree nuts, milks, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

    Many candies contain one or more of these food items. But there are candy alternatives. Skittles, Starbursts and Dum Dum Lollipops are among the safe sweets.

    But even non-food items, like Play-Doh, can have allergens in them.

    FARE and Danco both stress the importance of double-checking the wrapper before handing out goodies, food or not, for those who plan to participate in the project.

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    Loudoun Business Journal - Summer 2014

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