Playing it food safe at Halloween

Halloween is a fun and exciting time, but it is important to play it safe with food and treats.

A small dog in a Halloween costume.
Photo: Wade Syers.

Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children and families. Playing it safe with food and treats will help to avoid foodborne illness and the chance of contaminated foods. The United States Food and Drug Administration recommends the following food safety tips when trick or treating and/or hosting a Halloween party at home:

  • Children should not snack on treats from their Halloween bags before they are inspected by an adult. 
  • It is important to inspect commercially wrapped foods for tears, unusual appearance, or tiny punctures.
  • Only accept home-baked goods from trusted sources.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables are a healthy snack, but remember to rinse all fresh produce under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove any surface dirt.
  • If fresh apple cider is on your menu, make sure it is pasteurized to prevent harmful bacteria.
  • There is nothing better than fresh baked Halloween cookies, but wait until they are baked to eat them. Unbaked cookie dough or cake batter contain uncooked eggs and unbaked flour, which can contain harmful bacteria including Salmonella and E. coli.
  • Keep all perishable foods cold before serving. Any types of meats, poultry, cut-up fruit and vegetables, cream pies or cakes with whipped cream or cream cheese frostings should not sit out at above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.

Michigan State University Extension recommends when preparing food for your Halloween party always include the four simple steps of food safety:

  • Clean. Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate. Don’t cross contaminate (keep food separated and keep hands, utensils and food handling surfaces clean).
  • Cook to proper temperatures.
  • Chill. Refrigerate promptly (refrigerate or freeze) leftovers within two hours in a clean, shallow, covered container.

Do not forget one of the most important tips before enjoying your treats is to wash your hands.  Following these simple tricks or treat safety tips and food safety guidelines will help make every Halloween fun and enjoyable for everyone.

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