Friday, April 3, 2009

MA Food Allergy Bill Signed Into Law

Lots of opinions have been flying since this new bill was passed just a few days ago. The law does the following:

· Requires the placement in restaurant kitchens of an approved poster providing general information on food allergies as they relate to food preparation.

· Requires menus to include a statement that the customer should inform the wait staff of any food allergy issue.

· Requires approved food service courses — already attended by restaurant managers (the so-called “serve safe courses”) — to include the viewing of an approved food allergy video.

· Requires DPH to develop a program for restaurants to be designated as “Food Allergy Friendly” and to maintain a listing of restaurants receiving such designation on its Web site. Participation in the program shall be voluntary, and in addition to any other DPH requirements, in order to receive such designation restaurants would be required to make available to the public, a master list of all the ingredients used in the preparation of each food item available for consumption.

I've got a mixed reaction. On the one hand, this is a step forward for those of us consumed with food sensitivity worry. It raises awareness, which is always a great thing. Bringing in government oversight could improve things. I am proud that MA is being a leader, once again!

I'm also thinking it doesn't go quite far enough. Who will regularly monitor all this to ensure ongoing compliance, or are restaurants self-certifying? Will it just be a one shot deal and then all will be forgotten? Will the poster just be a decoration, or get lost? Will the info on the video be retained and utilized? Isn't "allergy friendly" kind of broad? Is the economic argument for a restaurant to become food allergy friendly strong enough so they will want to do it?

I have a passion for educating the food service industry - I just want to seen it done right. Stay tuned for more updates.

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