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How far should a restaurant have to go to protect people with food allergies?

Posted by on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM
  • 127 Replies

Dining out is a luxury, not a necessity!

Teen's Sister Inspires Her to Push for Food Allergy Bill

PHOTO: Food Allergies Bill

Danielle Mongeau, left, 18, reached out to her state senator to get a food allergy bill passed in Rhode Island so that her little sister, Lauren, right, 16, could finally eat out at restaurants without worrying about having a life-threatening allergic reaction. (Carter Photography)


Like most teenagers, Lauren Mongeau likes to hang out at restaurants with her friends. The only difference is that she never eats anything.

Lauren, 16, had so many food allergies that avoiding them in Rhode Island restaurants was nearly impossible, so she stopped eating out altogether. Even trace amounts of eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, beef, lamb, bananas, sesame seeds and mustard could trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, and send her straight to the hospital.

"She usually chooses not to eat at all," said her older sister, Danielle Mongeau, 18. "She still wants to be part of it because she's in high school and just wants to be social and have a good time with her friends. It's a struggle that has seriously affected her life."

So Danielle did something about it.

In December 2011, she emailed Rhode Island State Sen. Louis DiPalma and asked him to introduce a bill that would create a food allergy awareness program for restaurants similar to the program already in place in Massachusetts. The law would require restaurants to post signs about food allergens and include menu notices to remind customers to alert their servers to any food allergies. Restaurants would also be required to designate a food allergies manager who would be undergo specific training about allergies and how to keep customers safe.

In her email to her state senator, Danielle told DiPalma that her family had gone out to eat only seven times without packing a homemade meal for Lauren. Of those seven restaurant trips, Lauren was hospitalized for anaphylactic shock five times.

She said servers often didn't understand the gravity of food allergies. As such, they often became "rude" when made aware of Lauren's and Danielle's dietary restrictions. (Danielle is allergic to tree nuts.) Once, the Mongeau family was asked to leave a restaurant because Lauren was spotted eating food from home instead of ordering off the menu, Danielle wrote.

Of the 60,000 emails DiPalma has received in his five years as a state senator, he said only two had come from teenagers, and Danielle's grabbed his attention.

"She's a phenomenal individual," DiPalma told ABCNews.com. "We didn't need to reinvent what's already good practice out there in Massachusetts, and that's what we chose to do."

The bill passed last year, and will take effect in July 2013. DiPalma said 300 restaurants had already the allergy training course online.

The day the bill passed, Danielle went to the Rhode Island Statehouse and met the governor. Now, Danielle, a high school senior, works there as a page. She is still weighing which college to attend next year.

"We're very proud of her," Danielle's mother, Debbie Mongeau, told ABCNews.com. "She has witnessed Lauren going into anaphylactic shock and it's scary. I remember her as a little girl saying, 'Mommy, I don't want Lauren to die.'"

For Lauren's 16th birthday March 15, the family went out for dinner to a restaurant where Debbie Mongeau knew the owners. For her next birthday, the law should be up and running.

"I think it's just going to make her feel a whole lot more comfortable dining out with friends," Danielle said.

by on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM
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Replies (1-10):
talia-mom
by Gold Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM
4 moms liked this

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:32 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting talia-mom:

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

I hate that some people have such severe allergies that even being in the vicinity of a trigger can kill them. A bill eing passed mandating restaurants 'inform' those who might be afflicted is absurd, IMO. Hey guess what? A majority of people who dine out don't have life threatening food allergies!

Themis_Defleo
by Bronze Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:36 PM
5 moms liked this
I have food allergies. Thankfully, I do not have anaphylactic reactions. I seldom eat out, and when I do, I make a point to speak with the chef or manager personally. Some choose not to accommodate me. That's fine. What most of us want is assurance that a product that we are told is nut free or gluten free really is safe.

I'm willing to pay more for food that is prepared safely.


Quoting talia-mom:

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Rlmama00
by Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:36 PM
2 moms liked this

I think it's important for servers and those in the kitchen to be more aware because food allergies aren't that uncommon. I don't think restaurants should have to change menus, add more positions or spend large sums of money though. Those with food allergies don't need to go out to eat, but restaurant owners need to make a profit or they will be forced to close. 

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:36 PM
2 moms liked this

I think just listing ingredients and being able to tell someone where contamination may have occurred is enough.  There is a limit to what a restaurant can realistically do to be aware of every ingredient in every package.  Many suppliers will get their stuff from a variety of places so it can change by the week.

Themis_Defleo
by Bronze Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:38 PM
A more important measure is the staff member who is educated about allergies and whose responsibility it is to ensure proper precautions are taken.

It sucks to be sick for 3 days after ordering from the gluten-free menu because someone used the wrong salad dressing.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting talia-mom:

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

I hate that some people have such severe allergies that even being in the vicinity of a trigger can kill them. A bill eing passed mandating restaurants 'inform' those who might be afflicted is absurd, IMO. Hey guess what? A majority of people who dine out don't have life threatening food allergies!

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
brookiecookie87
by Platinum Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:39 PM


Quoting talia-mom:

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

You don't see the value in it saving someones life?

As the article pointed out of the 7 times she ate out she ended up in the hospital 5 times. If they had the allergy awareness they might have been able to inform her that certain foods they cook have traces of the foods she is allergic to.

And she has been kicked out of restaurants for bringing her own lunch.

She people with severe allergies have to play a game of life and death whenever they go out to eat?

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Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:43 PM
3 moms liked this


Quoting Themis_Defleo:

A more important measure is the staff member who is educated about allergies and whose responsibility it is to ensure proper precautions are taken.

It sucks to be sick for 3 days after ordering from the gluten-free menu because someone used the wrong salad dressing.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting talia-mom:

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

I hate that some people have such severe allergies that even being in the vicinity of a trigger can kill them. A bill eing passed mandating restaurants 'inform' those who might be afflicted is absurd, IMO. Hey guess what? A majority of people who dine out don't have life threatening food allergies!

I can see why that would be frustrating and potentially lethal. I just can't see why a person who has such severe allergies would put their life in the hands of a total stranger.

Cubanmom84
by Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:45 PM
If your allergic to things, it's not all the restaurants near you responsibility to cater to you specifically because of it. You can't eat all that, then have a salad, she can't fries, cause when I was in high school hanging out and eating some fries and a soda was the shit lol is your responsibility as a person to be extremely careful. Same with people with peanut allergies, so severe that they end up in the hospital, they are careful they are not requestion all restaurants withing a hundred miles to change for them. No, is your responsibility, so you feel different cause you can't eat with your friends, so what, being different is awesome!
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talia-mom
by Gold Member on Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:45 PM
4 moms liked this

That is completely what I said. 

And yes, she should be kicked out of a restaurant if they don't allow you to bring your own things.  That is their policy.

Should a vegan be allowed to bring their own food to a restaurant that doesn't have a single thing not cooked with an animal product?


I have no problem with restaurants being proactive on allergies.  I do have a problem with requiring them to send someone for allergy training and a host of other allergy coddling measures.

Life isn't fair.  She was dealt an unfair hand in allergies.  But no place can ever assure that everything is completely allergen free.


Oh yeah, before you start.  Yes, I do have a child with an allergy could potentially kill her.


Quoting brookiecookie87:


Quoting talia-mom:

It's never enough for some.  And yet, if they had to pay more for their meals, some would protest that is discrimination.

They aren't like everyone else and can't expect the same treatment.

You don't see the value in it saving someones life?

As the article pointed out of the 7 times she ate out she ended up in the hospital 5 times. If they had the allergy awareness they might have been able to inform her that certain foods they cook have traces of the foods she is allergic to.

And she has been kicked out of restaurants for bringing her own lunch.

She people with severe allergies have to play a game of life and death whenever they go out to eat?



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