During Allergy Awareness Month, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced a new initiative that will help restaurants and food service establishments to increase awareness of food allergies in consumers. As of May 20, any establishment serving food must display an allergy notice in an area that is easily visible and readily accessible to employees involved in food preparation and service.
Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “For people with food allergies, eating something that has been cross contaminated with potential allergens can have serious consequences. 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.”
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “At the Department, we actively inspect our retail food outlets for food safety hazards but many times these stores also serve food directly to consumers. Allergens are commonly found within food establishments and the potential for cross contamination of these allergens in other foods is a serious concern. This new policy directing our food establishments to post an allergy notice and develop procedures to reduce cross contamination will help educate our food service employees about food allergies and provide consumers assurance that staff is trained, communicating, and ready to respond in an emergency.”
This new policy is a result of legislation sponsored by Senator Cordell Cleare and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. The bill requires that all food service establishments, including internet-based food delivery services, also include an allergy notice on their menu in addition to the establishment’s food preparation and service area.
The notice includes procedures for staff to follow when a customer shares that they have an allergy, how to prevent cross contamination during food preparation and service, and instruction to call 911 if a customer has an allergic reaction.
Melissa Autilio Fleischut, President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said, “Food allergies can pose serious health risks. Restaurants across New York State are dedicated to creating a safe, enjoyable dining experience for all 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. We are proud to support this important New York State initiative.”
The State Department of Health and State Department of Agriculture and Markets are at the forefront of food safety efforts in New York State with a vast network of food safety inspectors that inspect New York 's retail food establishments, food manufacturing plants, and restaurants, as well as state-of-the art laboratories committed to protecting and improving the health of New Yorkers through laboratory analysis, investigation, and research, as well as laboratory certification.