Dining Out with Food Allergies
Food allergies affect nearly fifteen million Americans and are quite common in many across the nation. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education coalition (FARE), a food allergy can be defined as a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful immune response. The immune response called an allergic reaction occurs because the immune system attacks proteins in the food that are normally harmless. The proteins that trigger the reaction are called allergens. The eight most common food allergens include:
- Tree Nuts
- Crustacean Shellfish
Dining out while having a food allergy can be a risky undertaking. Lack of care and common cross-contamination in kitchens can cause an allergic reaction, which can range from a mild, itchy mouth to severe anaphylaxis which requires immediate medical treatment and/or hospitalization. However, lawmakers in Edison, New Jersey are in the process of potentially passing one of the strictest food allergy laws in the country. If approved, the law will help those with food allergies enjoy dining out without fear of a medical emergency.
The proposed legislation would require all restaurants and caterers to make every ingredient in a dish public and post the ingredient list on all menus. This way, diners will be able to know if an allergen is lurking in their dish. Some restauranteurs agree with the new proposal, as they will be able to ensure their clients’ safety and reduce the risk of medical emergencies in their facilities. However, others oppose the legislation, as they claim that overhauling their existing menus will be costly and time-consuming, as well as burdensome for the hungry customer to sift through.
Many New Jersey restaurant owners are also opposed to listing all the ingredients in each dish because of the need to disclose secret recipes that have been passed down from generations. Restauranteurs claim that those recipes are what gave rise to their businesses and what sets them apart from any other restaurant. If they are required to disclose the secret ingredients, how can they stop other chefs from stealing their recipes? Some allergists have proposed a solution, in which only the top eight allergens are listed, and not the entire ingredients list.
Food allergies can pose a severe danger and many symptoms can be a result of a restaurant employee’s negligence, such as failure to disclose all ingredients when asked or not taking the proper steps to ensure their clients are safe, even after the allergy is mentioned. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a severe allergic reaction and sustained serious injury or hospitalization because of the negligence of restaurant personnel, it is important to contact a New Jersey personal injury attorney, as you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group are skilled personal injury lawyers, who will fight for the compensation you and your family are entitled to receive. Please contact us today at 908-352-2500 to schedule a free initial consultation.