The feedback on these laws on other allergy blogs and websites seems to be that they are a great step in the right direction, but they do not go far enough. Illinois has a very similar bill pending in the state senate right now. Tomorrow, I have a meeting with Senator Cunningham and hopefully Representative Burke to discuss the pending bill. The Illinois Senate Bill 0037 is available here. Senate Bill 0037
While it is extremely important that the government do something to educate restaurants and food preparers about food allergies, it seems like the only material improvement as a result of this proposed law would be the food allergy friendly designation-- if it's done right. Some criticisms of the other laws enacted is that the allergy friendly designation may lull the customer into a false sense of safety at a restaurant because the requirements are not tight enough. Another criticism was that the requirement for every restaurant (not just designated allergy friendly restaurants) to place on their menu that customers should inform staff about food allergies, causes customers to interpret such a note as "wow, this restaurant is aware of food allergy issues," when in fact, the restaurant may not be safe at all. The designation should better read "State law requires that we inform customers that they should tell restaurant staff of food allergies."
So, tomorrow at my meeting, I will be giving a long list of suggestions for requirements a restaurant must meet in order to win the title "allergy friendly" (some of which I admittedly borrowed from comments on other websites related to other laws), including:
If anyone reading this blog has any further suggestions, I would love to hear them. Hopefully, I get a good reception from the legislators tomorrow and I will definitely post an update.