Venkat introduces legislation to promote food safety

More than 33 million Americans have food allergies

HARRISBURG, Dec. 1 – Rep. Arvind Venkat, D-Allegheny, introduced two bills to promote food safety at restaurants.

House Bill 1868 would require the Department of Health to create a food allergy awareness program and direct restaurants to designate a manager with knowledge of food allergies and preparation, as well as require employees to review the materials on food allergies. House Bill 1869 would require the DOH to create a poster about food allergies for restaurants to display and direct restaurants to include language on their menus to ask customers to advise restaurant staff of their relevant food allergies.

The two bills are companions to S.B. 992 and S.B. 993, introduced by Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks.

Nearly 50% of deaths caused by food allergies occurred at restaurants,” Venkat said. “To prevent such deaths, we must improve food safety at restaurants by increasing awareness about food allergies and ensuring restaurants have staff available with the necessary knowledge to avoid cross-contamination, and asking customers to notify restaurants about any food allergies they may have.”

Schwank said, “Every Pennsylvanian deserves the ability to enjoy a night at a restaurant without worrying about coming into contact with an item that could compromise their health and safety. One in 10 adults in the U.S. has experienced a severe reaction caused by a food allergy. The Food Allergy Legislation Package that I am introducing with Rep. Venkat will add potentially life-saving guardrails and provide customers and food service workers with the information they need to reduce the risk of severe food allergy reactions in Pennsylvania."

These bills would improve food safety at Pennsylvania’s restaurants, Venkat noted.