Requiring restaurants to inform customers if peanut products are used

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I would like to pursue the issue that restaurants be required to inform customers (in displayed/distributed menus)if peanut oil (or any other peanut ingredient that visually cannot be identified as such) is used in the preparation of the foods.

Any information on this? Has this issue been pursued before? Results? I sent the following letter to my representatives and senators from NJ. Please do the same in your areas.

I understand that there is no law requiring restaurants to inform their customers if peanut oil (or any peanut ingredient that visually cannot be identified as such) is used in the preparation of foods. This is really hazardous to people allergic to peanuts, since peanut allergic people can suffer a fatal reaction if they come in contact with any peanut ingredient.Today, those with peanut allergy avoid chinese foods, since usually, peanut oil is used for cooking in these restaurants. However, there are other restaurants that also use them, and most people have no idea of this fact and even, sometimes, the personnel who attends the customers have no idea and may not be able to respond if asked. The problem with a peanut product allergy is that visually it may be very difficult to determine if a peanut product is used, as it is the case of food fried with peanut oil, and ground peanut used in sauces or cookies, etc. By the time the person tastes something different, it may be too late. I am sure you are all aware of people dying after eating a cookie that they did not know it contained ground peanut.There have been so many unnecessary fatalities already! However, I do understand that products sold at stores are required to indicate if peanuts or even peanut traces are one of the ingredient.This has been really helpful! So now we have to move further and require a law requiring restaurants to inform their customers if peanut oil (or any peanut ingredient that visually cannot be identified as such) is used in the preparation of foods. We need to provide help to people allergic to peanut in identifying food that will unknowingly harm them. Especially teenagers which may be advised by ignorant friends to not worry so much and may not ask the right questions in a restaurant for fear of being laughed at by friends. I trust that every restaurant owner agrees that preventing the loss of lives is something that benefits a business that may otherwise be faced with legal suits.Indicating on the menus (displayed/distributed) whether any of the peanut products are used as ingredients would be an easy way to identify the foods that some people may need to avoid. Also identifying the foods that do not include the peanut products would reassure the customer that it is okay to eat these food. I, as a mother of a young boy who is allergic to peanuts, am extremely concerned, and I am willing to do whatever is necessary to see this law passed. I know I am not alone in this, and I know I echo the voices of many. Please let me know what else is required to move ahead with proposing and passing such a law.

[This message has been edited by nitza (edited March 04, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by nitza (edited March 04, 1999).]

On Mar 4, 1999

I really wish I knew how to pursue this in the form of legislation. We rarely go out to eat for fear of a reaction.

On Mar 4, 1999

Two restaurants where my husband and I eat when we don't have the children with us post peanut and/or peanut oil on their menu.

One is an Italian restaurant and it describes the dishes in detail of its ingredients on the menu and one of the dishes has crushed peanuts in the cuisine.

The other restaurant, which is a homestyle family style dining, lists on their menu "all fried foods are cooked in peanut oil." This is in big bold letters at the bottom of the menu.

It would be nice if ALL restaurants did this.

On Aug 2, 1999

WOW I agree.. I wish there were something we could do.. I am in litigation with a resturaunt that was so ignorant about what they cooked their food in that my kid got some fries cooked in peanut oil... this was all after we told them why we needed to ask what they cooked with.. how deadly it was for the kids to get.. never the less.. we ended up ata hospital.. and my lawyer seems to think that because there is no legislation we cant do much... MD state is actually getting a bil going for their state. I found this out when I tried to find something to nail this resturaunt with. Good luck. Jennifer

On Aug 9, 1999


Sorry I cannot remember where I saw the info, but I think it was on a government web page for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It may have been in one of ADA technical assistant manuals on-line, but there was something in there about asking a restaurant to provide a list of ingredients was considered a "reasonable" accomadation for people with life threatening allergies.

I hate to leave this as an open thread but I will post if I see it again. I am real sure it is covered under the ADA. Sorry I'm not more help.

Good luck and stay safe,

Sue in Sunny Arizona

On Jan 5, 2000

Sometimes restaurants just dont care. I have been in some places that are great to you and some very bad places...!!! Twice in two weeks I advised the waitresses at least nine times that I was allergic to nuts. Both times 1st time cheesecake second time salad (never figured out where the nuts were in the salad). Owner thought we were pulling a scam and tried to make us pay the bill before leaving ( we ending up leaving the credit card with him) and then we got a good lawyer. Some people like some airlines are not concerned unitl you whack them where they care about!! This is not to say that most places are not great people but just look at some of the airline stories, if you boycotted them or threatened them like the peanut industry does you would get results.,.. just my 2$$

On Jan 24, 2000

At this moment, I'm trying to go about getting restaurants to be aware of peanut allergy and have them to clearly post it in all menus and ingredients in what they serve. Why not talk to the cook and see if he or she is taking precautions? I want to see this be law that oils and ingridients are listed on menus. It's worth a try right?

On Jan 26, 2000

To Jennifer: Did you say Maryland was getting a bill going in our state? Please let us know more information!!! I'd LOVE to contact my representatives and urge them to pass this bill. Let us know more! Thanks.

On Apr 5, 2000

I'm so glad I found this thread! I had an experience with a local bagel maker who rolled his eyes at me and told me "yes we put the egg bagels, banana walnut bagels in the same vat of water as plain but the plain are safe, the egg/nut don't get in them" He just didn't get it. I wrote him a letter with copies of FAN materials just to tell him how WRONG he is and maybe save someone else? But the reason for writing is this....In my area there is some type of class that resturant workers must attend to learn about hygeine and bacteria and hand washing...I believe it's from the heatlh department. What if they offered another section on FOOD ALLERGIES, KITCHEN HYGEINE and HIDDEN INGREDIENTS?? I'm sure it would have to be optional but I'm guessing there are SOME chefs, resturant owners who may care? I understand Disney is very well informed and will gladly accomodate us. I wonder what they used to educate the chefs? My husband drilled a local pizza place recently, they showed him everything in the kitchen, olive oil, sauce is homemade, they told him from what, crusts homemade, they showed him from far as cross contamination they denied using any type of nuts in any dishes. They make there own pastas and one had egg but they assured us nothing is prepped in the pizza area but pizza and were so helpful. OF COURSE being a mom, I just couldn't let my PA/EGG allergic 2 1/2 yr old eat the pizza anyway, but I will let my husband bring it tin the house now. I figure until Alex can verablize that his throat is weird, or tongue fells weird, I won't risk eating out. The only excpetion I have made is a local water ice joint who also invited us into the pre area, let us read ingredients. There ice cream is just plain, no toppings in the buiding, no nuts anywhere and they make a big deal out of my son when he visits! Sorry for rambling, I feel conntected when I get here because you are people WHO GET IT! BUT if anyone knows who regulates classes for food handlers or what disney uses to educate , please post! thanks for being here!

On Apr 8, 2000

Eating the wrong thing in a restaurant is my greatest fear in life. I ordered split pea soup in a restaurant and it had ground peanuts in it. When I ask if something contains peanuts or peanut oil, the response is often, "I don't think so." People in restaurants simply do not take this problem seriously. I would love to see a law passed, but laws do not automatically regulate behavior. Even if laws are passed, people still do stupid things. I would work with others to press our federal and state representatives to try to get legislation passed, because anything is better than the situation that each of us faces now.

On Apr 12, 2000

I found the technical letter (USDJ)that I refered to (above) concerning the ADA requiring some help in "legally" dealing with restraunts. [url=""][/url]

Sue in sunny Arizona

On May 24, 2000

Have you received a reply from your Reps. or Senators? I have been wanting to write a letter for some time, but have been unsure where it would get the best response: a particular committee, Representative, or Senators.

Let me know what the outcome has been. Thank you.

On Aug 7, 2000

I think that ALL restaurants need to post if they use peanut oil or peanuts in general or if they don't. Not even a week ago we rushed our 16yr old son to the ER because we were not informed. He barely pulled through but is ok now. Also, we were informed by a chef that in some restaurants, pans don't always get washed in between dishes. Therefore, if something containing peanuts is cooked, then something not containing peanuts is cooked in the same pan without being washed, the same reaction could happen. We are thinking this is what happened with our son. BE CAREFUL! Something needs done and we are going to do all we can to stop this.

On Feb 7, 2001

Maryland is about to vote on several bills to help inform people of ingredients in the food that is served in public establishments. Write to your representatives.

On Feb 15, 2001

In this post, I will be posting as a PA/TNA person, as well as a former owner of several restaurants. I have tried to be fair to both sides, and I think I was in my business.

I think a general posting on a menu about the types of ingredients would be workable. In restaurants, other than chain type fast food restaurants, having to have available ingredient lists for every item on the menu would be very difficult. My chefs created daily specials and sometimes during one of their creative binges, new and innovative items were created. I did not know from day to day what would come out for a special.

I did expect my servers to know exactly what was in each item and to be able to tell the customers. I expected them to find out from the chef what the ingredients of the special items were. I did educate them on food allergies and cross contamination.

As an aware person, my restaurants did not serve nuts in any form -- peanut butter, toppings, oils, etc. I could have easily posted my policy.

However, my experience, especially with upscale restaurants, shows that many restaurants regularly use nuts and nut oils, and when eating in them, all I ask is that the server find out for me what the ingredients and cooking coditions are. I do not eat in restaurants where cross contamination can occur. If I leave a restaurant due to their usage of nuts, I tell them why.

I make my feelings known with my pocketbook. I do leave restaurants where I do not feel safe.

Many may not agree with me, but I do believe it is the right of the restaurant to cook and serve the foods of their choice. Additionally, it is my right to not eat there. I do give them information which I hope they consider, but I don't feel I have the right to choose their menus for them.

When we restrict nuts in restaurants, the next step could be wheat, seafoods, legumes, gluten, etc. As a restaurant owner, that would be disastrous.

By the same token, I do think that no nuts or nut ingredients should be used in the schools at any time and at any place. Why? Because children do not have a choice about being at school. We have the choice not to be in a restaurant.


On Mar 26, 2001

Please check out the information at:


Regarding allergy friendly dining restaurants.

On Apr 9, 2001

I am looking for some guidelines for restau- rants to post in hotel kitchens. I was caught 2 days ago with a peanut reaction and ended in the E.R. I had a grilled chicken sandwich plain. but it had been brushed with peanut oil for grilling. I drove myself to the hospital but I want to return to the Trades Winds Hotel St. Pete Beach Fl. w/ documentation. The manager said he hoped I feel better soon.


On Feb 9, 2002

I just wrote to the anaphylaxis network here in Canada and the Health Minister about this very matter. I was thinking about contacting fast food chains such as McD, BK, KFC directly asking them to have a written list of ingredients to their menu items available for customers who request it. If the media get involved and announce that these are available, then I'm sure smaller restaurants will hopefully follow suit. I hope others will contact such places too and more people will bring faster results.

On Feb 15, 2002

247 Mom -- FYI, fast food restaurants in the U.S. are required to provide ingredient and nutrition information upon request. So if they use the argument that it would be too difficult/expensive to do in Canada, we know that's just an excuse.

On Feb 15, 2002

I would recommend contacting Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, US Senate. He was one of the co-authors of the landmark ADA law.

He is an advocate for those with disabilities. Maybe, he could sponsor a federal bill or give us an idea what the federal government could do on this issue.

On Mar 29, 2002

Are there any laws in Virginia conserning this? I was in the ER last night, missed work, and I feel like poop today. I asked the restraunt employee if hey use peanut products and she said no. I called back after taking a couple of bites of my food to inform them of my predicament and she then told me that they use peanutbutter to make the gravy, but they did not use peanut products. Apparently not all terrorists are middle eastern.

On Mar 30, 2002

Yikes, sounds like she wasn't the brightest light in the valley! I don't think there are any laws pertaining to this in the US but I could be wrong. I hope you are feeling better by now.

On Jan 9, 2003

Bumping up for new posters