Del. Mark Keam bill to require food allergy training in Virginia restaurants passes House

food allergy billThe Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation this week to require restaurants in Virginia to train their employees to be aware of customers with food allergy and safety issues.

Keam’s House Bill 2090 and its companion Senate Bill 1260 introduced by Senator Creigh Deeds passed both chambers of the Virginia Legislature with overwhelming support.  Both bills are now headed to the Governor’s desk.

Claire Troy, a 14-year old constituent from Vienna who, along with other members of her family, suffers from food allergies, and brought the idea to Keam.  She asked her delegate to help ensure that restaurant workers are able to address the needs of customers who may suffer severely if the restaurant inadvertently prepares food or uses ingredients without properly guarding against allergic reactions.

Troy and her mother traveled to Richmond in January to testify in support of Keam’s HB 2090 at a subcommittee hearing of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee.  Although she was admittedly very nervous about speaking in front of a panel of elected officials, Troy presented her case in a calm and coherent manner.  Her testimony included well-documented economic analyses of potential benefits to the restaurant industry if they adopted food allergy awareness best practices.

Troy also told delegates a story about her personal experience when over 30 friends and family members visited her family on the occasion of a First Communion.  Troy testified that, “My parents did not think it was feasible to eat out with all of the food allergies between me and my little brother and sister.  So we hosted a dinner at our house.  We would have much rather gone out to eat.  That night, a restaurant lost the revenue of 30 plus people.”

Afterwards, several members of the subcommittee commented that Troy’s personal testimony was critical in influencing their decision to support Keam’s bill.

“When this bill goes into full effect, Virginians who suffer from food allergies can be comforted knowing that every restaurant in the Commonwealth will have staff knowledgeable about food safety issues,” said Keam.  “I want to thank my young constituent Claire Troy for coming to Richmond to testify on its behalf, as well as the Virginia Restaurant Association and Department of Health staff for working with me on this important legislation,” said Keam.

The details of these bills are available at lis.virginia.gov.

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