Two state agencies are marking Allergy Awareness Month by informing the public about a new law affecting New York restaurants and other food service establishments.
Beginning May 20, any business that serves food in New York is required to post an allergy notice that is visible for employees involved in preparing and serving food. The notice also includes information on how staff should respond to a customer who reveals they have a food allergy, how to prevent cross-contamination in food preparation and service, and directs them to call 911 if a customer has an allergic reaction.
The policy is the product of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Cordell Cleare and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the legislation in November. The legislators explained that the bill’s intent is to “educate restaurant personnel and ensure that safety mechanisms are utilized in food preparation and service.”
The new law also requires restaurants and food delivery services to label the eight major food allergens on menus.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets, along with the state Department of Health, are raising awareness about the policy. Food safety is a priority for both agencies. The departments have inspectors who check food service establishments, restaurants and manufacturing plants.
“For people with food allergies, eating something that has been cross-contaminated with potential allergens can have serious consequences,” acting state Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “This new initiative will help inform food service workers about the dangers of food allergens and protect their customers with food allergies, while also giving consumers comfort in knowing that staff is prepared to assist them in case of an emergency.”
Melissa Autilio Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, views the initiative as a benefit for food service establishments and customers.
“This program will allow diners to take back some confidence when dining out, as well as allow restaurants to better protect patrons from potential allergen exposure and educate their food service workers,” she said.