By Bob Katzen

The Public Health Committee held a virtual hearing on legislation that would require restaurants to designate a server or other individual who is knowledgeable about the relevant issues relating to food allergies, as they relate to food preparation, to coordinate food service and preparation for customers with identified food allergies.

Sponsor Rep. Carmine Gentile (D-Revere) said she filed this bill in consultation with a constituent who nearly lost her son at a restaurant after he was served a pastry that staff had explicitly said did not contain peanut butter. “This legislation builds on the existing rules to help protect people like Tripp, who can follow all the current rules, but still get hurt or die because their server did not have someone with expertise in allergies to help coordinate service.”

“Those with serious allergies can sometimes feel as if they live in a parallel world from the rest of society,” continued Gentile. “This is a world in which restaurant visits are anxiety inducing rather than a joy, where individuals call restaurants ahead of time, comb the menu for the dishes that seem safest and often must labor to ensure their server takes their allergy seriously. This exhausting level of work means that people with serious allergies often only dine at one or two restaurants where they have built up trust. I believe that [the bill] would not only prevent potentially fatal accidents, but in the process, help individuals with allergies trust their experience eating out will be enjoyable and safe.”

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