House OKs bill to put specific allergy warnings on restaurant menus, enhance enforcement


STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson requiring more specific allergy warnings on the menus of all food-service establishments. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The legislation (2022-H 7399), which would take effect Jan. 1, would require all food service establishments to include on their menus a warning, in bold red print, that would be developed by the Department of Health, but must include at least the following language:

Before placing your order, please inform your server if any person in your party has a food allergy. Consumers especially vulnerable to foodborne illnesses should only eat seafood and other foods of animal origin, cooked thoroughly. Food allergens can cause serious illness, anaphylaxis shock and death.

“Food allergy warnings are already supposed to be on menus in Rhode Island, but there’s no enforcement, and our law isn’t specific about what it should say. This warning is important – it protects consumers and restaurants alike. While most people with food allergies are aware they should let their servers know about them, having a warning on the menu can be helpful in jogging their memory at the time they are ordering, and can prevent serious reactions and even death,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport.)

The bill would require the Department of Health to develop a system to inspect every licensed restaurant’s menu digitally or in person to ensure compliance. Any restaurant that fails to provide the warning would receive a written warning for the first violation, and a fine of up to $500 for each subsequent offense.