Food allergies affect more than 12 million Americans, including 3 million children and teenagers.
Eight foods -- peanut, tree nuts, cow's milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish -- are responsible for 90% of all allergic reactions. Gluten (a protein in wheat, barley, rye and oats) can also cause serious problems for people with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance.
Labeling of these eight top allergens on all food sold in the USA has been enacted into law in the FDA's FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) of 2004. Gluten labeling is currently under review by the FDA.
There is no cure for food allergies, and the only way to prevent an allergic reaction is strict avoidance of problem foods. It is estimated that anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially fatal reaction, results in approximately 125,000 emergency room visits and 150 deaths every year. There is no medication to prevent anaphylaxis -- only emergency treatment with epinephrine, administered after a reaction has begun.
For many, ingesting even a minuscule amount of the wrong food can lead to serious problems. Others have more progressive conditions like Celiac Disease in which damage is caused over time by ingesting Gluten.
Many food service employees lack basic information that could literally mean the difference between life and death for someone with a food allergy.
Public restaurants regulated by the County of Wake, NC would display the poster in a prominent location that is accessible to all employees that prepare or serve food, and should be available in other languages.
This poster will be a simple, cost-effective resource that will help servers and preparers detect hidden ingredients and prevent cross-contamination -- the number one cause of food allergic-reactions in restaurants.
Enforcement on the displaying of the poster will fall under Wake County's jurisdiction and fines should be imposed for non-compliant locations.
New York City Legislation Int. 818-2008 should be used as a reference guide. To view the bill, visit http://council.nyc.gov and search Legislation for Int. 818-2008.