Wednesday, September 26, 2012

food allergy conference

Ok.  So what most of you may know, is that my son has life threatening food allergies.  What most of you probably don't know, is that I have been working on (hopefully!) passing legislation that will ensure restaurants be more allergy aware.  It's called the Food Allergy Awareness Act, and it was a groundbreaking law that passed in Massachusetts, but not in Illinois.  When I heard about this Act, I immediately went to work to try to get it passed in Michigan.  And to find out why it didn't pass in Illinois!

In short, it requires restaurants to hang posters in the kitchen that provide allergy information, it would require restaurant workers to watch a 30 minute training video, and put labels on menus asking the customer to notify the server if they have food allergies.  To me, this is a real no brainer.

It might not seem like a big deal to eat in a restaurant if you have food allergies.  Just don't order anything with cheese on it, right?  Not quite.

Several of you have eaten with me in a restaurant.  You know that it takes me 10 minutes to order a bowl of oatmeal.  And you will also note that I really haven't eaten in a restaurant in months. After experiencing your two year old go into full blown anaphylactic shock after eating a piece of bread that was toasted on a pan that had once had butter on it, might scare many of you into trusting your child's life to restaurant workers.  Most of whom, I might add, are accommodating.  But many of whom are high school kids who think "just a little butter won't hurt," or people who are apathetic and snarky, or people who just don't know.   It's not their fault if they don't know.  And that is exactly what we need legislative help to change.

There is a great website called Allergy Eats, and this is where you can find restaurants that are allergy friendly.  Or not!  It is a list of restaurant reviews from all over, compiled by customers with allergies.  The people who give the best recommendations are those who have the same concerns.  I love this site.  I have added some reviews of my own...

Anyway, Allergy Eats is sponsoring a Food Allergy Conference for Restaurants in Boston, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, October 16.  You can find the information here.  I am hoping for the day that we can have these in Michigan, with the Michigan Restaurant Association president as a keynote speaker...

Wish me luck on my venture, and I will keep you posted with my progress!  Because there WILL be progress.  My current state of idealism and optimism simply does not allow for anyone to say no.


  1. Yes! I continue to wish you luck and hope to hear wonderful news about your efforts. Interesting that food workers need "food handling" permits, but are not educated on allergies. Perhaps part of the 30 minute training video should be a parent or allergy sufferer discussing exactly what anaphylactic shock is and does, especially to a little one.

    1. Thanks Marie! Yes, from what I understand, that is part of the video...

  2. I am hoping and praying. We struggle each time we go out and I now just pack my boy a lunch box because no one without alleries truely realizes what "a little bit" of something can do. I almost lost my baby to a bite of yogurt at 10 months old, and then again at 2 years because his negligent daycare teacher fed him cottage cheese. I do whatever I can to get the word out to every person I meet. So thank you for all that you are doing.

    1. That just gave me chills! This is exactly why I am doing what I am doing. Because some people just don't get it. And more often than not, it's just because they don't know how serious food allergies can be. The more education we get out there, the better off we'll be. Oh, and if you are looking for a great allergy sensitive vacation, the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City is phenomenal. We went up there a couple of weeks ago, and I can't say enough. The executive chef even gave me his allergy training packet, which is proving to be extremely helpful in writing up our legislation. I'll post an update soon, as we have very inspiring advancements on the horizon... Thank you for your support!!