By: Pooja Sharma
Halloween is a fun time for everyone from adults to children. But, to make sure that this fun part doesn’t get hampered in the middle by anything and only includes festivities celebration, it’s important to keep some of these food safety tips in mind. This Halloween, the only thing you should be afraid of would be haunted houses, witches, ghosts, and spiders. Here are few simple tips to make your Halloween safe and fun.
#1 Stay away from treats that are not commercially wrapped.
This tip is especially for kids. They go to so many houses and would never notice the candy wrapping before indulging into them. It’s important you tell them that they don’t eat anything that looks a little dubious. You need to tell them not to eat candy that isn’t properly wrapped..
Many candies that are not properly packaged are adulterated. Most of them contain heavy amounts of lead and copper. A few years ago imported candies that were sold widely in America contained contaminated milk, which sickened a lot of children and adults alike.
Sometimes some allergens are also not declared on candy. So, if you or your kid is allergic to nuts, soy, milk, etc. it’s best that you just stay away from improperly packed away candies.
#2 Check all candy for signs of tampering.
Some candy can have signs of discoloration or develop an unusual appearance. They might develop tiny pinholes or the wrapping might be torn from some end. We are not talking about chocolates that have melted and are disfigured. They are generally good to eat. But, some candy and chocolates smell bad and do not look fresh to eat. Avoid those. Due to high demand, sometimes the quality is compromised, so it’s better that you stay away from all suspicious looking candy.
#3 Look out for all perishable foods
Follow the two hour rule for all the perishable foods. Don’t keep them out for more than two hours. Keep them cold and chilled until they are ready to be served. These kind of foods develop the risk of becoming dangerous to eat quickly. And once the bacteria lands, it doesn’t take time for it to multiply. Also, do not keep adding new set of food to the old ones. Use small platters and once it is empty, fill it up with a fresh batch.
Try to keep hot food hot with the help of warming trays or slow cookers. And keep cold foods cold by using lots and lots of ice. Throw away all the leftovers that have been sitting out for more than 2 hours. And the ones that have been kept within 2 hours should be kept safe in the freezer and consumed within 3-4 days. And don’t forget to clean up everything after the party! Rinse out countertops, refrigerator handles. Sanitize them using bleach.
#4 Raw cookie dough
It is always tempting to eat raw cookie dough or raw cake batter when you are making them or you see someone else making them. But you shouldn’t do that. Reason being, cookie dough and cake batter contains raw eggs and sometimes raw milk. While raw eggs are responsible for spreading salmonella, raw milk can harbor bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. E. coli in raw flour has also been linked to foodborne illness outbreaks. All of these sicken thousands of people each year in US. Even though the source is not always dairy. This tip should especially be followed by kids, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have compromised immune function. They are at a higher risk of easily catching and developing these food related infections. The symptoms are those of food poisoning – vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps etc. It might be hard to keep kids away from raw dough. But, it is important that you do so.
#5 Unpasteurized juice or cider
Most of the juice that is sold in the Unites States is pasteurized and a very small number of retailers and distributors sell unpasteurized juices. But, again since holiday season is around the corner, they are burdened with responsibilities and bulk of orders too. So, it is better that you buy juices and cider only from reputed and trustworthy brands during holiday season. Unpasteurized juices can be contaminated with harmful food poisoning bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium parasites. They can cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea which can last for a week depending on how it affects your immune system. To stay safe, only serve pasteurized cider and juices at your party.
#6 Bobbing for apples
Bobbing for apples is a very fun-filled traditional game that is played on Halloween. It basically involves opponents picking up apples from a bucket of water with their mouth and not hands. So, clearly there are a lot of chances of infections that could spread through this game.
You could try a different version of bobbing the apples, that involves hanging the apples on a string and you could pull them off with your mouth. At least this one wouldn’t require you to dunk into a water mixed with your friend’s saliva.
#7 Maintain Good Hygiene
Keep a good supply of soap, sanitizers, napkins, etc. in your house. You have no idea on the kind of diseases that could spread if you don’t properly wash your hands. With candy and chocolates lying all around, it will be easy for both kids and adults alike to laze around for maintaining good hygiene. Some diseases that can spread by not maintaining a good hygiene are Norovirus, Hepatitis, etc. If you are suffering from a contagious disease like mild cold, it is very important that you do not touch any food that is served without washing your hands.
Another good tip would be to fill up your kids with food before they go out for collecting their trick or treats. This way they won’t give into their urges to eat chocolate and candy first. And hence, you would have time to inspect the candy they have collected. Just keep these few tips in mind and you and your family would be good to go for Halloween.