While daycare centers and schools have gotten better about monitoring food ingredients and intake, and food producers have gotten better about labeling ingredients, it can still be scary raising a child with serious food allergies. So here are three of the biggest legal food allergy concerns parents face, and how to best deal with them.
One of the most common food allergies among children is to peanuts and other nuts. The percentage of children suffering from peanut allergies in the United States more than tripled from 1997 to 2010, and, thankfully, more parents and schools are aware of the risk than ever. Make sure your kid's school knows about the allergy, and has a plan in place; make sure you're familiar with the school's allergy management policy; and make sure your child has an EpiPen and knows how to use it, and their friends know as well.
The Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires food, cosmetics, and other manufacturers to clearly label whether their product contains "a major food allergen." And restaurants as well are on notice to include all ingredients contained in their dishes, and warn customers of potential allergens. If they fail to do so, they could be legally liable for an allergic reaction.
Do schools need to accommodate students with severe food allergies? According to one college's settlement with the Department of Justice, yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, the definition of disability was broadened in 2008 to include new groups like people with food allergies. So certain organizations like schools are required to make reasonable accommodations for people with severe food allergies, such as offering allergen- and gluten-free food and special meal plans for students who have food allergies.
Parents, legal guardians, and caregivers should always have a food allergy and anaphylaxis care plan in place and ready in case of emergencies. You may also want to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options.