First of It’s Kind… Food Allergy Law for Restaurants

Those of us with dietary concerns due to food allergies, intolerances or celiac disease know that eating out in restaurants can often require more effort than it’s worth and can also be a very scary experience.

We all have experienced that “deer in the headlights” look from wait staff, and even restaurant management, after requesting meals free of certain allergens or gluten.

But thanks to the precedential Food Allergy Awareness Act in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, restaurant patrons will no longer have to endure those blank stares and the uneasiness of wondering if someone in the restaurant actually “gets it” when it comes to food allergies, intolerances and gluten-free dining.

The goal of this Act regarding food allergies is simple: To educate restaurant staff throughout state of Massachusetts on food allergy awareness and increase their knowledge on best practices in order to minimize the risk of illness, or even death, due to the accidental ingestion of food allergens.

Although it will always be important for those concerned with food allergies to use extra diligence, make sure they ask restaurant staff a lot of questions and carry an EpiPen if required, the law states, “… it is a shared responsibility between the consumer… and the food establishment operator” to make sure that allergen free foods are served to consumers. This law is a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing the importance of knowledge and education regarding the seriousness of food allergies to those in the restaurant industry.

Spearheaded by The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network and Ming Tsai, executive producer of public television’s Simply Ming, celebrity chef and owner of Blue Ginger Restaurant in Massachusetts, there are three (3) mandatory portions of the Food Allergy Awareness Act. They are:

1.) Menu Statement: Menus must include a statement that the customer should inform the wait staff of any food allergy issue.

2.) Poster Requirement: Posters, detailing information about the 8 most common food allergens, including the threat of cross-contamination during food preparation, cooking and serving; must be posted in each dining establishment.

3.) Training Video: The certified person in charge of food safety and various management personnel will be required to view a training video and become certified on food allergens. 

Thanks to Ming Tsai, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on this uniquely exceptional law. May this law become the benchmark and may every state in the nation follow in your lead!

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5 Responses to “First of It’s Kind… Food Allergy Law for Restaurants”

  1. Cindy Says:

    I really hope other states follow suit with Massachusetts. Do you have any advice on how to help make that happen in the state I live in. Another concern of mine that I feel I have to become an advocate for is that pharmacists in my area do not feel a responsibility to be sure that the prescriptions I am given are gluten free. They are throwing the responsibility for finding out onto me.

    I recently had a severe case of pneumonia. They actually wanted me to go in the hospital – but then you have the whole fear of the gluten food issue – and hospitals and staff – including nurses and doctors do NOT understand celiac. I said I wanted to stay home but would go in if I felt I was getting worse. I was given 3 prescriptions which my son filled for me at Meijers. He said the pharmacist looked for a few minutes to see if they contained gluten and then told my son he had no idea. It was 7pm at night and it was critical that I start the medication but of course I couldn’t possibly chance getting even sicker by getting glutened. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS. My daughter was able to determine that two of the prescriptions were gluten free by going on the computer (took her two minutes). If my daughter could do it the pharmacist should have been able to do it.

    I hope you can give me some suggestions about where to begin to make this right. I am not going to be discriminated against any more. I just don’t know where to start – other than writing to Meijers but I know it’s going to take more than that to make a change. I would appreciate your insight on this.


  2. Cara Says:

    I LOVE THIS! I wish it was nationwide! 🙂

  3. marsha pitter Says:


  4. Kathleen Reale Says:


    Thanks for your post. Many of us out here know exactly what you are speaking of. It can be very, very frustrating when doctors and pharmacist have no clue if gluten or other allergens are in the drugs they prescribe.

    It somehow doesn’t seem right that we have to weigh the pros and cons of taking a medicine that may have gluten in it. It doesn’t seem to fair to have to ask ourselves if we want to get glutenized, or get better!

    It is all about education. The more we spread the word about celiac disease and food allergies, the more aware our doctors, pharmacists and society will be.

    I attended a super informative educational sessions sponsored by the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and Stop & Shop Supermarkets. It was put on for their pharmacists and addressed the issue of gluten in medicines. I went because I was curious… but I learned so much too! More drug chains and supermarkets should hold sessions such as these!

    Regarding gluten in medicines, I put a sticker on my insurance card and wrote these useful resources on the sticker. They are great when it comes to pharmacists and doctors determining if gluten is in medicine.
    A comprehensive list of medicines that are gluten free.
    This is a great pdf document from the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness that is nice to print out and hand to your pharmacist or doctor.

    Ultimately, we all must look out for ourselves, and take a pro-active approach… even with our doctors and pharmacists! We must take health into our own hands. Ask questions, and also be prepared to educate others. Before a doctor subscribes me anything, I ask them to check if the drugs are gluten-free, and if needed find a gluten-free substitution before leaving the doctors office.

    I hope this info helps! And I hope you are feeling better too! =)

    Be Free!

  5. Cassie Says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I just used this in a speech class at college on how restaurants need to teach all cooks and managers what gluten is! With this I had printed a copy for every row as well as a copy of many restaurants that do offer a menu, such as a favorarite being Outback, and they all were interested like crazy! And like you are mentioning, all states need to do this, especially since I just moved to CA!!!!!! Almost no one out here knows what gluten is.
    Thank you again,

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