LANSING – As the excitement around Halloween heightens, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services remind residents to take precautions — from both a COVID-19 standpoint and to assure food safety — to assure a safe and fun celebration.
“COVID-19 cases are unfortunately on the rise in all parts of the state, and activities like trick-or-treating or indoor Halloween parties significantly increase the risk of transmission or exposure,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We recommend that families avoid trick-or-treating and consider other ways to celebrate this year.”
Alternative Halloween celebrations open the door to creativity and family fun. Ideas for celebrating include scavenger hunt style trick-or-treating, decorating the house, having a virtual Halloween costume contest with friends and family, or staying in and watching Halloween movies dressed in costumes.
If you choose to participate in trick-or-treating activities, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
Make trick-or-treating safer
Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
Wash hands before handling treats.
Wear a mask when passing out treats.
Wear a mask
Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.
Wash your hands
Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
Food safety is also an important part of keeping Halloween safe and fun. Before trick or treating, remind children not to accept or eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. These items may not have been properly made or packaged and could contain bacteria that may cause foodborne illnesses. Children should also be fed a light meal or snack to keep them from eating candy before you’ve had a chance to inspect it.
“It’s important for parents to look through their child’s Halloween candy,” said Tim Slawinski, MDARD Food and Dairy Division Director. “Parents should look for signs of tampering such as discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers, and throw away anything that looks suspicious.”
For your Halloween celebrations, follow these simple food safety tips:
Avoid eating dough and batters that contained uncooked eggs.
Keep perishable foods chilled until serving time, including sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
If serving juice or cider, please review the label. Product that is distributed to stores is required to be pasteurized. If serving unpasteurized product that was purchased at the location it was pressed, please review the warning label and take the appropriate precautions to protect the people you are serving.