Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Restaurants Should List Allergens

Kudos to Ontario's NDP for this, but it's not enough to force chain restaurants to simply list caloric content with their menu items.

All restaurants (chain, small, fancy and otherwise) should be required to list the complete nutritional information for their items readily. That's reasonable.

Equally important to publishing the nutritional ingredients, food allergens used in the creation of the menu item should be also included on the menu. Food allergies are not fads nor infringement on the rights of others to consume products. Food allergies can be life threatening.

In Canada, prepackaged food (with the exception of beer - grrrrr) is required to list off their ingredients, which help consumers to identify the presence of an allergen. Labeling of allergens on prepackaged foods (again, with the exception of beer - grrrrr) will be more strict in August.

The Center for Disease Control lists eight types of food that are the causes of 90% of food-allergy reactions: cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts), fish, shellfish, soybeans, and wheat. At minimum, use of these ingredients could be easily identified.

Waitstaff in restaurants are often at a loss as to what ingredients constitute a particular menu item. Chefs may be reluctant to report ingredients fearing infringement on proprietary recipes. Never mind the fact that the restaurant may be unaware that it is not advertising and producing allergy-free products in a contaminated environment.

Support this initiative, but broaden it's scope. It must be mandatory.

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