Food Allergen Laws
From laws on labeling foods for allergens, to the right of students to self-carry epinephrine and as well airlines and entities to stock it on site, to disability and discrimination regulations, corporate liability and duty of care, there are a variety of food allergy and other dietary need-related laws and regulations around the world that meeting planners, hoteliers and caterers should be knowledgeable about and understand.
The U.S. Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 is an amendment that requires the labels of domestically manufactured or imported pre-packaged foods regulated by the FDA containing any of the major U.S.-declared food allergens—soybeans, wheat, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts.
The EU regulation No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers is a European Union directive enacted in December 2014 that requires food business operators at all stages of the food chain (manufacturers to caterers) who serve food directly to consumers – pre-packaged and unpackaged — to provide information on the food being served directly to consumers, including ingredients, nutrition and allergens.
In September, 2008, the President signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADA Amendments Act” or “Act”). The Act broadens the definition of disability and the scope of coverage under both the ADA and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Emphasis is placed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis, making it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.
The impact to meetings and events can potentially be felt under both Title I and Title III, affecting companies hosting employee events and the places of pubic accommodation events are held.
Currently four states in the United States have enacted laws designed to make it safer for individuals with food allergies to dine in restaurants.
Massachusetts was the first state to institute the law and requires restaurants to display a food allergy awareness poster in the staff area and add notices to their menus and menu boards that state, “Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy.”
Also included in the law is requirements for:
- Food allergy training for certified food protection managers via a video
- Including the Food Allergy Research and Education’s (FARE) Welcoming Guests with Food Allergies pamphlet in training
- Allergen awareness training for certified food protection managers
- Always staff a certified food protection manager with a Massachusetts-issued certificate of allergen awareness training
Under HB 2090 enacted in 2015, Virginia’s State Board of Health is required to include training standards that address food safety and food allergy awareness and safety in its regulations governing restaurants. The Commissioner of Health is also required by law to provide materials on food safety and food allergy awareness and safety for the training of restaurant personnel.
St. Paul, MI
The city of St. Paul enacted to two food allergen ordinances that 1) requires all establishments with a restaurant license to display the approved allergen awareness poster in the staff area (kitchen) and 2) provides a seven percent discount on the restaurant/catering license fee if the establishment has an allergen trained person on staff at all times and they have an Allergic Customer Alert Process.
Signed into law in 2015, Michigan’s Public Act 516 (2014) certified food safety managers in most restaurants are required to take a training course with an allergen awareness component.
Rhode Island’s Food Allergy Awareness in Restaurants Act enacted in 2012 is similar to Massachusetts’s whereby restaurants are required to display a food allergy awareness poster in the staff area, incorporate the customer notification on all menus and menu boards of their obligation to inform servers of their food allergies, have managers be trained and knowledgeable about food allergies as it pertains to food preparation. The law an additional program for restaurants to be designated as “Food Allergy Friendly,” and provides a public database of restaurants earning that designation.
New York City
Chapter 27 of the New York City Health Code requires food service establishments to display posters with information on food allergy in conspicuous places for all foodservice staff, including, but not limited to, food preparation areas and kitchens where food orders and raw ingredients are processed or prepared and places where food orders are placed and retrieved. The posters have to be also available in multiple languages.
The Food Code, published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is a framework that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government—state, county, city—by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and food service segment of the food and beverage industry (e.g., restaurants, grocery stores, convention centers, hotels, nursing homes).
Regulators at the local, state, tribal, and federal level use the FDA Food Code to develop or update their own food safety rules and to be consistent with national food regulatory policy.
The full edition of the Food Code is updated by the FDA, with the support of the Conference for Food Protection (CFP), every four years. The FDA has been known to publish a Food Code Supplement that updates, modifies, or clarifies certain provisions in between the full edition updates.
The 2013 Food Code is the most recent full edition published by FDA.
EPINEPHRINE is the first line of defense in saving the life of a person having a food allergy reaction.
Traditionally prescribed only to individuals with allergies, epinephrine is now being allowed by states across the U.S. for purchase by entities in an effort to reduce the time it takes to get lifesaving treatment to someone who is believed to be having a sudden anaphylactic reaction.
Since 2013, 16 states have passed laws that permit places of public accommodation — theme parks, restaurants, sports arenas, daycare centers, businesses, hotels, convention centers — to “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors on site in the event that a person, whether previously diagnosed or not, has a sudden anaphylactic reaction. The intention of the laws, similar to those of AEDs, is to provide the most immediate medical care available to save their life.
States with Stock Epinephrine Entity Laws:
Minnesota (2015) – HF1638
Nevada (2015) – AB158
New Hampshire 2016 – SB25-FN
New Jersey (2016) – 4094
North Carolina (2015) – HB647
Oklahoma (2015) -SB542
Oregon (2013) – SB611 Epinephrine
Rhode Island (2014) – HB7576
Tennessee (2016) – HB2054/SB1989
Utah (2015) – SB147
Washington (2016) – SB6421
West Virginia (2015) – HB2648
Wisconsin (2015) – SB139
States with Pending Stock Epinephrine Entity Laws
Legislation has been introduced in the following states, but is pending further legislative discussion and approval.
States with No Stock Epinephrine Entity Legislation
The following states have not introduce any legislation to allow places of public accommodation to stock epinephrine: