It’s better to be safe than sorry – and these two allergy-friendly movements are serving as simple reminders that empower people to speak up in order to avoid deadly consequences.
In August of 2019, the state of Illinois Senator, Dave Koehler, signed House Bill 3018 into law, making it safer for food allergy sufferers to dine-in at restaurants. The new legislation requires all restaurants in the state to have clear and visible signage that serves to remind patrons to notify their waiter/waitress about any allergies they have. The waiter is then responsible for notifying their supervisor and initiating their kitchen’s respective food allergy protocols.
Dave Koehler recognized the immediate need for this legislation after he experienced a life-threatening anaphylactic allergic reaction himself – one so severe that he was rushed to the hospital.
House Bill 3018 is a big step in the right direction for raising allergy awareness. Not only are restaurant employees better equipped to handle orders with allergy distinctions, but the required signage also serves as a clear reminder for all food allergy sufferers to always inform restaurant staff about their dietary restrictions.
You can see Koehler’s statement here https://youtu.be/FgCw2SvMqOo or check out the bill status at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=3018&GAID=15&DocTypeID=HB&LegId=119361&SessionID=108&GA=101.
Not only is legislation being passed to remind allergy sufferers to always double check their food, the Chicago based company, Allerbands, is also encouraging people to speak up with their slogan and hashtag #alwaysdoublecheck.
With their brightly colored and fun alert bracelets, Allerbands is on a mission to encourage food allergy sufferers to be vigilant about keeping themselves safe. Allerbands founder, Pat McNamara, who has been sent to the emergency room several times himself, hopes this product serves as an extra layer of protection for food allergy sufferers, and a friendly reminder for them to always be double checking their food.
Especially for younger kids who might not fully understand the severity of their allergy diagnosis yet, wearing an Allerband at school, birthday party or anywhere else away from mom and dad can help remind them to always be asking if something is safe to eat.
Allerbands currently makes peanut and fish allergy alert bracelets, and has tree nut, wheat, soybean, egg and milk bracelets coming soon. And for every allerband that is sold, the company donates $1 to organizations raising awareness and doing research on food allergies.
Check out Allerbands at their website https://allerbands.com or on their instagram page https://instagram.com/allerbands?igshid=1mtixwg06sx4v and get yours today!
It can be easy to forget, but the simple mistake can severely cost you. As innocent or unsuspecting as a food item might be, it is crucial to always double check. I have two personal stories where doubling checking probably helped save my life…
- A simple plate of pasta usually seems like a safe choice, so when ordering fettuccine alfredo at Carsonie’s Stromboli & Pizza Kitchen in Columbus, Ohio with a friend, I was not going to alert my waiter. However, in a split second after thought, I decided to ask him to inform the kitchen about my nut and shellfish allergies. Much to my surprise, I was notified that Carsonie’s alfredo sauce did in fact contain tree nuts. Doubling checking my seemingly innocent order saved me a trip to the hospital that night – and possibly even my life.
- After growing sick of getting take-out from the same few places in college, I decided to try a burrito bowl from Moe’s Southwest Grill in Columbus, Ohio. After picking up my order and driving home (to an apartment where I lived alone) I had a bad gut feeling about taking the first bite of my meal. I decided to double check on Moe’s website and searched through the nutrition information for their allergy statements. While sitting at my kitchen table with my food unwrapped and ready to eat, I discovered that Moe’s Adobo chicken contained peanuts. If I would not have double checked my order online that night, I would have been home alone when I suffered an anaphylactic allergic reaction. ***(When checking back on Moe’s Southwest Grill’s website again while researching for this post, their chicken is no longer listed as containing nuts, but I am not willing to risk it.)
Because of these terrifying close calls, I have vowed to always double check when eating at a new restaurant – no matter how unsuspecting my meal is. Despite weird glances when asking if a plain cheese pizza is safe for me to eat, I always think back to these two instances and remember how important it is to speak up.
If I would have had the simple reminder required by HB 3018 visible on the restaurant menu, or glanced down at an Allerband on my wrist while ordering, I never would have been as close as I was to making a fatal mistake.
That little voice in the back of your head or the weird gut feeling in the pit of your stomach is always right – and you need to listen to it. Whether you are trying a new restaurant, having a meal at a friend’s house, or picking up a treat from the store, make sure you are in the habit of always double checking! It can save your life.