** Update as of September 26, 2012: "Council Member Greenfield recently introduced Intro 924, which would require restaurants to post major allergens that are used as ingredients in their food. It is similar to Council Member Lappin’s bill Intro 981 and we’re working with committee staff to figure out what the distinction is." **
I’m all for more food allergy legislation that makes it easier for both restaurants and patrons to make informed choices about dining out safely and effectively with severe dietary restrictions. However, this NY1 story and this Daily News story about a new food allergy bill in New York City is unclear and leaves me with more questions than congratulations. [NB: I’ve written to my contacts at the city council for clarification and am awaiting a reply.]
The gist from Daily News: "City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make restaurants put up posters that alert patrons if a particular offering contains any of the eight most common allergens — peanuts, eggs, nuts, milk, wheat, fish, soy or shellfish."
Here’s the bill information that I found the NYC.gov site: "A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to food allergy awareness in food service establishments...The department shall create a poster containing information on food allergy to be posted in food service establishments, including, but not limited to, warnings if food contains eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy or wheat as ingredients. Such poster shall be printed in the covered languages and shall be made available by the department to food service establishments.”
I don’t know one restaurant that doesn’t use one or more of the top eight allergens at some point in their menu. How would that poster read? Wouldn’t it have to be huge? What about an ingredient book instead like the kind Chef Ming Tsai uses at Blue Ginger that is accessible to all patrons? What about implementing some of the other great legislation that Massachusetts fought so hard for and won?