Food Allergy Graphic

White Plains, NY —  Food allergies are a major health concern for many Westchester families and people across the nation, especially when it comes to choosing where or whether to dine out. In fact, every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone in the United States into the emergency room, and around 1 in 11 Westchester residents live with food allergies.

A measure unanimously passed Monday night by the Board of Legislators will give Westchester residents with food allergies a greater sense of security when deciding to eat at County restaurants.

The Food Allergy Restaurant Safety bill will ensure that restaurants have personnel on site who have been trained in food allergy safety, including designated food safety officers during operating hours. 

The bill also will require the posting of signs certifying that employees have the training, and listing the nine major food allergies, as well as symptoms of an allergic reaction and actions to take in cases of a reaction.

Under the bill, the County Health Department will designate one or more acceptable online food allergy training programs -- a designation which may include programs that many Westchester restaurants are already using to train employees.

Legislator Vedat Gashi (D-Yorktown, New Castle, Somers), the bill's chief sponsor, said, "The dangers of food allergies are very real, even life threatening for many Westchester residents.  It was heartening to hear at our Committee meetings that so many of our local restaurants already take this issue seriously and are using commercially available programs to train their employees. By codifying this training into law, we're protecting the health and safety of diners, and also, hopefully, helping local restaurants by encouraging people with allergy concerns to feel safe and welcome. This is not a law that I brought to the community, but one the community brought to me and I want to thank them for that. It is a wonderful example of how government can and should work with businesses, with families in the community and across political lines to get things done."

Legislation co-sponsor Minority Leader Margaret Cunzio (C-Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville, North Castle), said, “As someone who suffers from a food allergy, I know how reluctant, even frightened, people can be about going out to eat, especially parents whose children have food allergies. Hopefully, this law can give them greater peace of mind. In order to assist local businesses with the training, certified online courses will make is easier for food establishments to educate their employees on food allergies.”