Bill aims to make it safer for people with food allergies to dine out at restaurants

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SYOSSET -

A proposal in Nassau would make it safer for people with food allergies to enjoy dining out in restaurants.

Democratic Legislator Josh Lafazan introduced a food allergy restaurant safety bill. Lafazan says it will make a huge difference to those who suffer from dangerous and potentially deadly food allergies.

"Legislation would require conspicuous allergy awareness signage in both the kitchen and the dining room of restaurants that contain the phrase, 'If you have a food allergy or a special dietary requirement, please advise a member of staff.' Those signs must also list the eight major food allergens and actions that an employee should take if they see an individual suffering from an allergic reaction," he says.

The legislation would also require restaurants to designate two certified food safety officers. One would be required to be on the premises at all times. It would also create an opt-in program that would allow restaurants to be inspected by the Nassau County Health Department and earn a designation as an allergy-friendly establishment. All would need to complete proper training and exams for the restaurant to be considered an allergy-friendly establishment.

"Right now, we lean on the customer and we ask them what to do. It would be nice for the customer to come in and know that we know what to do," says Rustan Lundstrum, owner of Coach Grill and Tavern.

Elana Zimmerman has two small children with severe food allergies. She says they've already experienced dangerous allergic reactions and emergency trips to the hospital.

"When you see your child almost die, it changes you forever," Zimmerman says. "I live every day in a constant state of fear."

Zimmerman says if the law is passed, it would open up many options for her family.

Lafazan says similar laws are already in the books in a few other states.

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