Rhode Island restaurants have until July 1st to come into compliance with a new allergen awareness law. The law requires restaurants to post signs about food allergens and include menu notices to remind customers to alert their servers to any food allergies. The law is the direct result of efforts by a Middletown teenager.
Sixteen year old Lauren Mongeau is allergic to a wide variety of foods. Her older sister, Danielle, lists a few of them:
"Red meat, dairy, bananas, sesame seeds and a lot more," Danielle says.
It got so bad Lauren had to bring a brown bag to restaurants when her family dined out, which didn’t always go over well with the restaurants.
Frustrated over her sister’s plight, Danielle petitioned her state senator, Louis DiPalma, and the result is the allergy awareness law passed by the 2012 General Assembly. "We’ve already started to see some differences," Danielle says. "My mom was actually able to go out with my sister for her birthday a couple weeks ago. So that was awesome and they were very accommodating and understanding. It’s really all about awareness." Senator Louis DiPalma, who introduced the bill, says the goal is to save lives. "I’m hoping we’ll be able to avert any catastrophic illness that can manifest itself from a food allergy perspective," DiPalma explains. Food service establishments that fail to comply with the law by July 1st face up to a $500 fine.