From the offices of Councilman Greenfield:
Councilman David G. Greenfield today introduced legislation in the City Council that would increase awareness of food allergies by requiring restaurants to post a sign alerting consumers of various common allergies caused by foods served there. Greenfield’s bill, known as the “Food Allergy Awareness Act,” would help ensure that customers and all restaurant staff members are aware of this growing health problem, which affects millions of Americans of all ages and is becoming more prevalent.
The bill would require all restaurants and catering halls to display a city Department of Health poster containing information on food allergies including warnings if any food served contains eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy or wheat ingredients. The notification must be posted in a conspicuous place that is accessible to all patrons, and posters would be available in Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, Spanish and any other language as determined by the Health Department. The goal is to promote awareness of food allergies to everyone involved in the food service industry, from the customer to the server or bartender to the kitchen staff. This will reduce the risk of cross contamination and of the customer unwittingly ingesting an ingredient they are allergic to.
“This is a simple, common-sense solution to a serious and growing public health issue. The more awareness we can create about food allergies, the more we can reduce the risk for those people who have to worry about this every time they go out to eat. Any low-cost measure that we can take to save lives is worth it, and this is no exception,” said Greenfield.
As many as 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, including 6 million children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been an 18 percent increase in food allergies between 1997 and 2007, with the prevalence of peanut allergies among children tripling from 1997 to 2008. With 4 percent of adults and 8 percent of children suffering from food allergies, finding suitable places to eat out has become a major concern for a large segment of the American public. Overall, the eight types of foods to be listed on the posters account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions.
“It is clear that more and more Americans are suffering from food allergies than ever before. It is time for our city government to recognize this critical issue and take simple steps like this to reduce the incidents of deadly allergic reactions in our city’s outstanding restaurants,” added Greenfield.