Monday, February 1, 2010

House Committee on Health to hear food allergy bill

The House Committee on Health will hear a measure on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 to help make dining out easier for those who suffer from food allergies and related anaphylaxis.

House Bill 2723, Relating to Food Safety, introduced by Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu (District 41-Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele) would establish guidelines and safeguards to make restaurants safer for those with food allergies by expanding the food safety consultative and education program under the department of health.

The bill is based on a landmark bill signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick last February, which was developed by Chef Ming Tsai, chef and restaurateur, whose son also suffers from severe food allergies.

“It is my hope that a restaurant’s ability to provide consumers with detailed information about their menu and ingredients will enable people who would normally choose to stay home and eat because of high sensitivity to foods to enjoy a dining experience outside of the home, and assist in generating more business for our restaurant industries,” explains Karamatsu. “The growing prevalence of food allergies and the associated anaphylaxis is on the rise and that’s what makes it all the more important that we take the upfront, precautionary and educational steps to make our restaurants 'food allergy friendly' for residents and visitors alike.”

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), more than 12 million Americans have food allergies, 3 million of which are estimated to be children. FAAN believes that approximately 150 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits a year are attributable to food-related anaphylaxis.

The bill, if passed, will then go on to the House Committees on Economic Revitalization, Business and Military Affairs, and Finance before crossing over to the Senate. Hawaii would be only the second state in the country to pass such legislation.

For more information on the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and food allergies please visit

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