Because a single mistake can lead to a life-threatening reaction and a trip to the emergency room, the prospect of dining out often instills fear and doubt in many food allergy sufferers.
Chief concerns among the allergic are whether the waitstaff will treat their food allergy as a serious medical condition and whether they can be trusted to know which allergens are ingredients of each dish.
A town in New Jersey isn’t waiting for the state to pass legislation to allay the fears of their allergic residents. Instead, their councilman is taking the lead by introducing an ordinance requiring allergen disclosures that will be among the strictest in the nation.
Under the ordinance proposed by Edison Township Councilman Sam Joshi, menus would be required to clearly list which of the FDA’s “Top 8” allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish) as well as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sulfites are ingredients of the dishes and beverages they serve.
The ordinance – if passed by the town council on August 22 – will take effect October 1 for handheld menus and Feb 1 for large, posted menus. Edison counts more than 630 eating establishments and nearly 400 caterers that serve the town.
“Food allergies have increased so dramatically in the last decade that a lot of owners or servers don’t have a clear policy on food allergies, but they need to,” Joshi said.
We at SnackSafely.com applaud Councilman Joshi for introducing the ordinance and urge the Edison Township council to pass it. We believe the legislation will serve as an example to other municipalities across the nation to take action to protect their allergic residents.
Are you searching for ways to foster better allergen disclosures at eateries in your neighborhood? Consider using Edison’s ordinance as a template and work with your town council toward sponsoring and adopting similar legislation.