October 30, 2019
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Alexa Scotto, RDN contributes to topics such as Nutrition.
By Natalee Ruddock- Gorousingh
It’s not just the fun or scary costumes that we look forward to on Halloween. Both kids and adults alike also enjoy a chance at devouring their favorite candy.
While eating candy can cure that sweet tooth, if not done in moderation – it can have detrimental effects.
Alexa Scotto, registered dietitian nutritionist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center gave some perspective and answered your frequently asked questions about Halloween candy.
Can you freeze Halloween candy?
Yes. You can most definitely freeze Halloween candy, especially chocolate-based items like chocolate candy bars. Freezing candy can actually help extend the shelf life. It is very important to place the candy in an airtight container or freezer bag to keep the moisture out. The best quality frozen candy will last for about 12 to 18 months.
Does Halloween candy expire?
This may not be what you want to hear, but yes, Halloween candy does expire. It is important to make sure to check the best by or expiration dates stated on the packaging by the manufacturer.
On average, gummy candies and milk chocolate will last about 6 months to 12 months if left unfrozen, while sour and hard candies, if stored in a cool dry area, can last up to a year.
To ensure best quality, store your candy in a cool, dry pantry (55- 60 degrees F). Nuts or other additives will shorten a product’s shelf life.
Are there gluten-free, vegan and allergy sensitive Halloween candy?
Yes, there are many gluten-free, vegan and allergy sensitive Halloween candy on the market. But first, know your child’s allergies and check ingredient labels thoroughly before giving your child any candy.
The top eight food allergens include milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.
Gluten-free candies are free from wheat, rye and barley. Oats can be cross contaminated so be cautious when purchasing treats with oats. Vegan treats will be free from any animal products. If the ingredient label lists dairy, gelatin, shellac, carmine and eggs, it is not vegan.
Gluten-free, vegan and allergy sensitive Halloween candy are easy to find and available in the candy aisle of many grocery stores. It is important to read food labels because each candy and manufacturer varies in what ingredients they use and how they process their products.
How much Halloween candy should kids eat?
We don’t want to rain on your Halloween parade, but there is a thing as too much Halloween candy. The amount of Halloween candy kids should eat is at the discretion of the parents or adults. However, it is recommended that candy be consumed in moderation as excess sugar and sweets can have detrimental effects for your teeth and overall health.
Halloween is a tradition that happens once a year, so it’s okay to indulge a little bit. The important message parents should ensure to relay is that this is a special occasion and only happens once a year.
What Halloween candy is worst for kids?
Sticky gummy candy such as taffy should be limited. The sugar can stick to children’s teeth and may cause tooth decay.
How to tell if Halloween candy has been tampered with?
Make sure you inspect your children’s candy and ensure it is in its original packaging with no openings. A responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any candy that:
- Has an unusual appearance or if the wrapper is damaged.
- Spoiled or expired candy.
- Any homemade items or baked goods from people you don’t know.
Never consume treats from strangers that are homemade as you can never be sure of the ingredients.
How to limit how much Halloween candy kids eat?
It is a great idea to portion out Halloween candy to promote the healthy habits of moderation. Parents can separate the candy in different containers and provide the remainder in moderation or store for later in the freezer.
Make sure to provide a healthy, nutritious balanced meal, even on Halloween! If you feed your child a healthy dinner before allowing them to have Halloween candy, they will likely be fuller and consume less candy than on an empty stomach.
Is there a minimum age for candy consumption?
Children who are two years old and under should not be consuming candy, due to choking hazards. For children who are 2 to 5 years old, parents should ensure to only provide soft, easy to chew treats.
Always avoid any hard candy or a candy that is difficult to chew. It is a great idea to sort through your child’s candy at the end of the day, making sure to provide them with the safe options.
Alexa Scotto, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Visit the nutrition section of HealthU to learn more about healthy eating.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.