House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee reports out Venkat’s legislation to address food safety in restaurants

Nearly 50% of deaths caused by food allergies occurred at restaurants

HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – During a news conference today, state Rep. Arvind Venkat, D-Allegheny, announced that the PA House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee reported his food safety legislation out of committee by a vote of 24-1.

Venkat’s legislation (H.B. 1869) would require restaurants to prominently display written information on food allergies in their food preparation and service areas and ask customers to notify their servers about any food allergies they might have. The state Department of Agriculture would oversee the program.

The bill is a companion to S.B. 993, introduced by state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks.

“In the U.S., emergency physicians treat approximately 3.4 million patients for allergic reactions to food,” Venkat said. “I introduced this legislation after speaking to my constituent, Kathy Briden, whose son Matthew died after accidentally being exposed to peanuts while eating at a restaurant. As an emergency physician, I treated patients experiencing allergic reactions, and we must improve food safety at restaurants to prevent deaths such as Matthew’s.”

“Improving and increasing awareness on the impact and severity of food allergies is a critical step in helping protect the million-plus Pennsylvanians living with them,” Briden said. “As a family, we will continue to honor our son Matthew, who lived his whole life with a peanut allergy, by working to educate others and foster change. We are grateful to Representative Venkat, members of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, and Senator Schwank for actively addressing the issue.”

Schwank said, “I applaud Representative Venkat and the members of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee for voting to advance H.B. 1869. Food allergies impact millions of Americans, and as we've unfortunately seen, these allergies can be deadly. Every Pennsylvanian deserves to be able to enjoy a meal with family and friends without fearing for their health and safety. This bill proposes a set of commonsense guardrails that will make Pennsylvania restaurants safer for folks with food allergies.”

“On behalf of the more than 1.3 million Pennsylvanians with life-threatening food allergies, Food Allergy Research & Education, the nation’s largest food allergy advocacy organization, endorses and is proud to back H.B. 1869, a bill to increase food allergy awareness in the state’s restaurants, and are grateful for the leadership of both Rep. Venkat and Sen. Schwank in building bipartisan support for this legislation,” said Jason Linde, the senior vice president for advocacy for FARE.

Venkat’s bill now awaits a vote by the full House.


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