April 18, 2017 | by Betsy Craig photo istock Legislation recently passed inMontgomery County, Maryland, mandating that all restaurant shifts include at least one allergy safety-trained employee has had its share of both positive and negative reviews. But, the fact is that thelegislation will kick into effect this July 1 and like it or not restaurants there must be ready. That's why the Maryland County Department of Health and Human Services is supporting the move by providing area restaurants with lists of approved online and in-person food allergy training courses. The reality also is that though many jurisdictions nationally may not yet have similar regulations, all food service operators should open their eyes to the fact that initiative is not in its infancy anymore. Rather, this kind of increased allergen awareness and the establishment of baseline expertise requirements in food service is the direction the industry is headed. Montgomery County may be an early adopter, but soon this kind of regulation will likely be everywhere. The fact is that approximately 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of youngsters today are affected by allergies, and restaurants of all types are now being directed to adjust their operations accordingly. In fact, the commonwealth of Virginia already has a mandated food safety program in place. But Montgomery's County's mandates go a step further beyond requirement of food safety training alone, to include allergy training Fire Safety Training as well. And that requirement is not going away, so restaurateurs need to get on board with this type of preparation now. As an example, look at the state of Connecticut where House Bill 5295 stipulates that all the state's restaurants and their employees must undergofood allergen awareness training. Meanwhile, in Illinois, another bill (HB 2510) would require all food service businesses there to retain at least one certifiedfood allergen-trainedmanager at all times during restaurants' hours of service. Across the nation, health officials are joining the trend as well.
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