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Living with Food Allergies – Know Your Rights

 Posted on July 26, 2023 in Food Allergies


Food allergies are a prevalent and potentially life-threatening condition affecting millions worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 32 million people suffer from food allergies. Living with food allergies can be challenging, as it requires constant vigilance and careful management to avoid potential allergic reactions in public places. This article will delve into the rights of U.S. citizens with food allergies and provide essential tips for keeping yourself safe from allergic reactions.

What Is a Food Allergy?

Your immune system's response to a certain protein in different foods is an allergic reaction. In simpler words, When someone with a food allergy consumes an allergenic food, their immune system overreacts and releases chemicals like histamine, leading to a range of symptoms from mild to severe.

Common symptoms include hives, itching, swelling, gastrointestinal discomfort, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 identifies the nine most common allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, shellfish, sesame, soy, and fish.

What Are My Food Allergy Rights?

Living with food allergies doesn't mean having to compromise your rights. U.S. citizens with food allergies are protected by various laws and regulations to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some important rights to be aware of:

● Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)

FALCPA is a significant step forward in safeguarding the rights of individuals with food allergies. This law requires packaged food products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly state if they contain any of the major allergens listed above. Manufacturers must label these allergens in plain language, making it easier for consumers to identify potential risks. Some important pointers of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act are given below:

● The allergens and ingredients must be clearly mentioned.

● Simple language and a readable font should be used.

● Gluten must be labeled.

● Precautionary labeling guidelines should be followed, such as "may contain" or "manufactured in a facility that also makes fish."

● Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including those with severe food allergies. Food allergies can be considered a disability under the ADA if they substantially limit one or more major life activities. This law applies to various establishments, including restaurants, schools, and workplaces, ensuring that reasonable accommodations are made to protect individuals with food allergies from exposure to allergens.

● Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in federally funded programs and activities. This includes schools, colleges, and universities. Schools must provide reasonable accommodations for students with food allergies, such as allergen-free meal options, designated allergen-free areas, and the availability of epinephrine auto-injectors in case of emergencies.

● Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The AIR Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects the rights of air travelers with disabilities, including food allergies. Airlines must accommodate passengers with food allergies, such as offering allergen-free meals and allowing passengers to pre-board to clean their seating area of potential allergens.

A Lifestyle Guide: Living with Food Allergies

While knowing your rights is essential, taking proactive steps to avoid allergic reactions is equally crucial. Here are some valuable tips for individuals living with food allergies:

1. Read Food Labels Thoroughly: Always read food labels carefully before purchasing or consuming any product. Manufacturers are required to disclose the presence of major food allergens in clear language. Be aware of hidden allergens, as some foods may contain traces of allergenic proteins due to cross-contamination during processing.

2. Communicate Effectively: When dining out or attending social events, communicate your food allergies clearly to the restaurant staff or hosts. Ask questions about dish ingredients and request special accommodations if needed. Many restaurants now have allergen menus or allergen-free options to cater to their customers' needs.

3. Don't Forget to Carry Medications: If you have been prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPen), always carry them with you. These injectors are a life-saving measure in case of severe allergic reactions and should be easily accessible.

4. Educate Friends and Family: Educate your friends, family, and coworkers about your food allergies and how they can help in case of an emergency. Awareness among those around you can prevent accidental exposure to allergens.

5. Be Cautious with Cross-Contamination: Be cautious about cross-contamination in shared kitchens or dining areas. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and dishes thoroughly to avoid contact with allergenic proteins.

6. Plan for Travel: When traveling, research food options and medical facilities in advance. Notify airlines and hotels about your food allergies to ensure a safe journey.

Protect Your Rights with Newland & Newland LLP!

Have you or a loved one recently suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction due to the negligence of the food provider? Let a Newland & Newland LLP food poisoning attorney vouch for your rights. With a proven track record of successfully handling food poisoning cases, we have the expertise and knowledge to pursue the justice you deserve.

We understand the complexities of food poisoning cases and are ready to take on the legal burden so that you can focus on your recovery. Time is of the essence, so don't delay. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. Remember, you have rights, and we are here to protect them and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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