Rhode Island Senate approves new food allergen bill, while U.S. Congress considers additional food allergen-related legislation

Restaurant employees in Rhode Island could soon have a new set of rules to follow when it comes to food allergens.

The possible changes stem from a bill passed Thursday in the Rhode Island Senate that requires all food service businesses to have a food protection manager who is trained and certified to deal with food allergen issues. It also will require allergy-awareness posters in staff areas to inform employees about the risks associated with food allergens. The bill also requires restaurants to place a notice on menus asking customers to notify servers if someone in their party has a food allergy, according to WPRI.com.

The bill now will head to the Rhode Island House of Representatives for consideration.

It was introduced by Sen.  Louis P. DiPalma after a high school student who suffers from food allergies asked him take action on the issue. The law is modeled after a similar Massachusetts law that took effect last year.

The bill’s passage couldn’t have fallen during a more appropriate time as this week marks Food Allergy Awareness Week.

In other food allergen-related news, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is working to pass a bill that would encourage states to create laws that ensure epinephrine is available in schools to treat anaphylactic reactions. Epinephrine, or adrenaline, counteracts the effects of severe allergic reactions.

Although the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act  was introduced in the U.S. Senate last fall, parents who had lost children to fatal allergic reactions took to Capitol Hill Wednesday to show their support.

Virginia passed a similar law last year after a first grader died from an allergic reaction to peanuts. The law takes effect next year and requires schools to carry epinephrine auto-injectors.

For a list of blog posts related to food allergens, click here.

For Neogen’s Food Allergen Handbook, click here.

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