House passes Venkat legislation to address food allergens in restaurants

HARRISBURG, March 26 – Today, state Rep. Arvind Venkat, D-Allegheny, applauded House passage of his legislation to address food allergens in restaurants, that would ensure employees and customers are aware of food allergies and reduce the accidental risk of exposure to food allergens in retail food facilities.

Venkat’s legislation (H.B. 1869) would require restaurants and retail food facilities to prominently display written information on food allergies in their food preparation and service areas, and ask customers to notify their servers about any food allergies they might have. The Department of Agriculture would oversee the program.

“I introduced this legislation after speaking with my constituent Kathy Briden of Franklin Park, whose son Matthew tragically died after accidentally being exposed to peanuts while eating at a restaurant in Allegheny County,” Venkat said. “Nearly 50% of deaths caused by food allergies occur at restaurants and retail food establishments. These deaths are preventable. House Bill 1869 would help ensure food safety at restaurants, protecting millions of Pennsylvanians with food allergies.”

Briden said: “Our son Matthew died at age 28 from anaphylaxis after eating what he thought was a safe food in a Pittsburgh restaurant. House Bill 1869 is good, commonsense legislation to help protect the 1.3 million Pennsylvanians with food allergies. As a family, we are committed to continue our advocacy so we can spare others living with food allergies our son’s tragic and preventable fate. We thank Rep. Venkat for introducing this bill and his colleagues in the House for supporting the 33 million Americans with food allergies by passing it.”

The bill is a companion to S.B. 993, introduced by state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks.

“Food allergies are extremely common and impact hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians,” Schwank said. “These folks should still be able to enjoy a meal out with friends and family without worrying that their health could be compromised. I’d like to thank my House colleagues who voted to advance this bill and applaud Rep. Venkat for the tremendous leadership he showed in getting this bill out of the House and over to the Senate. Now, I’m hopeful the Senate will move to consider this important legislation.”

Food Allergy Research and Education, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization engaged in food allergy advocacy, is grateful for Rep. Venkat’s leadership and Kathy Briden’s dedication in passing a bill that will help improve the lives of the state’s more than 1.3 million food allergic residents,” said Jason Linde, FARE’s senior vice president of advocacy. “We encourage the Senate to pass this bill into law.”

Venkat’s legislation passed 148-53.


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