Dining with Food Allergies
The news is often peppered with stories regarding severe food allergic reactions and deaths. Such events often arise out of a school situation or from eating in a restaurant.
Food allergic individuals are more than familiar with how difficult eating out can be. Some servers are unaware of what it means to have a food allergy and some cooks don't understand the term “cross contamination”.
A new law in Massachusetts will help to address awareness and education in Massachusetts restaurants. The hope is that the rest of the states will follow suit. Celebrity chef Ming Tsai, of the restaurant Blue Ginger, has worked with many, including the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and allergist Michael Pistiner, to come up with a plan to help restaurants learn to deal with and manage food allergic patrons.
The plan involves a set of rules restaurants must follow. The state public health council still needs to approve of the plan and is expected to vote on the issue as soon as April. One such rule is that a poster must be plastered on the kitchen wall to serve as a reminder to cooks, servers and dishwashers. Another rule is that menus will have a statement reminding diners to notify their server of any allergies. It is hoped that by next January, at least one worker from each restaurant will undergo food allergy training by watching a video that Tsai helped to create.
If all goes according to plan, and it looks promising, Massachusetts will be the first state to implement such rules and diners with food allergies can feel a little more comfortable about dining in Massachusetts restaurants.
Ruth LovettSmith is the mother of a child with multiple life threatening food allergies and founder of Best Allergy Sites: an online food allergy directory
and resource guide.