One more menu disclaimer

It’s a safe bet that I won’t like any article that begins by praising bans on smoking and transfats, and Ming Tsai’s piece for The Atlantic on Massachusetts’ new allergy regulations doesn’t disappoint. The law starts with yet another requirement for restaurant menus:

First, there has to be a blurb on every menu that asks customers, “Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy.” In addition to promoting safety, this only makes it easier for restaurants to service customers. We’d much rather know about allergies in advance. It becomes a service nightmare when you have to redo a whole meal.

Well, pardon my language here, but no shit. If you’re dangerously allergic to a food item you should tell your server this when you order. This statement doesn’t need to be mandated. Between this, the calorie labels, the admonition to consume no more than 2,000 calories per day, and the warnings about raw meat, fish, and eggs, one wonders what page space will be left for food by the time every health lobby gets their way.

At least this is mostly harmless. The other aspects of the measure might even do some good, adding basic allergy and cross-contamination education to the safety course some restaurant staffers must already take. And Tsai’s optional binder system for tracking allergens in a restaurant’s dishes is a positive contribution. But does the fight for greater allergy awareness deserve inclusion in this paragraph? You be the judge!

Everybody should have the right to be able to eat safely in any restaurant. Going back in history, it used to be that if you had a certain color of skin, you couldn’t go into certain restaurants, then it was if you were a handicapped person you couldn’t go in, and now if you have allergies, you can’t.


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