Chinese Restaurant Owners Weary of New Food Allergy Bill
The New York City Council is considering a new bill that will require restaurants to put up posters about foods in their menus that may cause allergies. But some Chinese restaurants owners say the legislation is not needed and will become a financial burden to them, reports The World Journal. The article was translated from Chinese.
New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield introduced the Food Allergy Awareness Act on Sept. 12, a bill that will require restaurants to display posters reminding customers of ingredients in their food offerings that may cause allergies. But many Chinese restaurant owners believe the bill is unnecessary because customers know their allergies and alert the waiters when ordering and it will only lead to increase fines for restaurants.
The proposed law requires all restaurants to put up big posters with information about possible allergies to the ingredients they use to prepare their foods, such as eggs, milk, peanuts or shellfish. The posters should be placed in an area that everyone can see and should be also posted in other languages, such as Chinese, English, and Korean. Greenfield says the bill will increase awareness about food allergies.
According to Greenfield, a few months ago, one of his friends posted on her Facebook page about her experience with his son’s allergy at a restaurant. She recalled that she explained to the waiter, in detail, about her son’s peanut allergy. She asked whether dishes contained any peanuts and the waiter said no. However, her son’s allergic reaction to peanuts made them spend the night at a hospital. Greenfield said his friend’s experience inspired him to think of the bill.
However, many Chinese restaurant owners believe that the proposed bill is unnecessary and may only lead to an increase in tickets and fines. The current requirement that restaurants put up calories and restaurant sanitation levels has already burdened their business.
Mr. Chen, who owns a Chinese restaurant in Midtown, said that the most likely food allergy found in Chinese food is seafood, including shrimps and shellfish. Mr. Leung, who also owns a Chinese restaurant in Midtown, said that in more than 10 years in business, he has not encountered any food allergy incident. Usually, customers let the waiter know of any allergies and the waiter works with the chef to pay special attention to the request. The same occurs with customers of different ethnic backgrounds. Mr. Leung also said that restaurants already have up a poster that Department of Health distributed about food allergies. He worries that this proposed bill would increase fines and tickets for restaurants.
Jiang Yong Chen, president of The United Chinese Restaurant Association of America, said restaurant owners do not need to worry about the impact of the proposed bill. The association will closely monitor the legislation. If it passes, the association will work with the Department of Health to help owners understand the law and enforcement. If necessary, the association would help the Department distribute the posters. Although food allergies are not common in restaurants, they may become and the bill would allow restaurants to better serve their customers. Greenfield said that the law would not increase the burden on business owners, but allow customers who have allergies to feel more at ease eating at restaurants.