When Valentine’s Day is a Health Hazard


A romantic evening at the emergency room isn’t the Valentine’s Day most people have in mind but candy, flowers and kissing can come with hidden health hazards to pets, children and people with allergies.

Food allergies

Over 30,000 people end up in the emergency room each year because of food allergies and the number is growing, especially among children. Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.

Chocolate allergies, sugar aversions and nut sensitivities all must be taken into consideration when giving — and receiving — Valentine’s Day sweets. Read labels, experts say, and be mindful of warning statements specifying if food is prepped near an allergen.  People with food allergies have to be vigilant not just about the ingredients in candy and other Valentine’s Day treats, but also about who they kiss.

About 5 percent of food allergy patients had an allergic reaction after kissing someone who had eaten a food they were allergic to, a University of California study showed.  Myriam Ducré-Lemay 20, of Montreal died from an allergic reaction after kissing her new boyfriend who had just eaten peanut butter.

The most common food allergens are,

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat


Candy containing xylitol, as well as all chocolate, can be deadly to our furry friends. Many flowers, too, contain potentially hazardous substances.On Valentine’s Day, keep the romance alive by keeping candy away from dogs’ reach and flowers and plants where cats can’t nibble on buds or dip paws in the water.  Veterinarians say cats can be poisoned by lilies, and dogs nearly comatose from eating low-sugar candies and cookies. Also, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous for your pet.


Valentine’s Day may be for sweethearts but school aged children will eat a lot of treats on Feb. 14 and planning ahead is a parent’s best course of action. Most school districts now have plans in place according to local, state, and federal guidelines regarding how food is brought into the classrooms.

If you have a child with food allergies or intolerances, working with your district in advance can make parties and snack times for holidays like Valentine’s Day enjoyable for everyone.  Whether the snacks must be store bought or homemade, plan on sweet-inspired treats that everyone can enjoy.