NC State professor says trick-or-treating this year is riskier than not


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Halloween is just a little more than a month away and parents across the country will be deciding if their children should go trick-or-treating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control recently said participating in traditional trick-or-treating where candy is handed to children who go door-to-door is considered a “higher risk” activity for spreading viruses.

Dr. Benjamin Chapman, a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, said the best way to manage the risks of contracting COVID-19 is to not participate this year.

“The biggest risk for transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 remains being around other people,” Chapman said. “Sending kids out is riskier than not, but there are management practices including face coverings, limiting interactions with people outside of their family (other trick-or-treaters and the folks who are handing out candy) and hand hygiene can reduce the risk.”

Being around other people while out and about on Halloween is the main concern – not touching or eating candy given to by others.

“Eating food or touching food packaging of any kind (candy or otherwise) has not been identified as a transmission route for SARS-CoV-2,” he said. “We don’t have any examples in the hundreds of clusters of illnesses worldwide where either food or packages have been identified as risk factors.”

While Chapman strongly suggests wearing a mask – he doesn’t fully endorse wearing gloves as a way to avoid transmitting the virus.

“Gloves are not going to decrease risk over good hand hygiene. However, spraying food with disinfectants could certainly increase risk of other toxicological issues,” Chapman said. “I would recommend against that.”

The N.C. State professor said there are no simple answers when it comes to handing out candy safely.

Chapman worries about trick-or-treaters congregating at someone’s doorstep or waiting in line for candy. Contactless/interaction-less treat bowls or baggie could work to keep everyone safer.

He also said those considered high rise should reconsider handing out candy.

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