Bricklane Catering prides itself on serving “more exotic” dishes at parties, which means chef Charlie Giordano sometimes uses 100 different ingredients to prepare a meal. And at a recent wedding, one of them may have caused the bride to experience a dangerous allergic reaction.
“The planner pretty much saved her life,” Giordano says.
The bride didn’t have any known allergies, and she made it through the menu tasting without any health issues. But after she collapsed at her reception, every guest was grateful that the planner was carrying an EpiPen. Now Giordano is thinking about whether restaurants and catering companies should be similarly outfitted.
“We have labeled items; we’ll always convey what contains nuts,” Giordano says. “It’s something we address with every customer, but there’s always that chance. If we’re renting equipment, we don’t know what it was used for.”
Currently, 14 states have passed “entity legislation” that allows organizations such as sports leagues, camps or country clubs to obtain a prescription for an epiphrine auto-injector to be used in anaphylactic emergencies. Colorado this year passed its law over the objections of the Colorado Restaurant Association, which argued food service workers shouldn’t be expected to provide medical care to patrons.
In North Carolina, one of six states where similar legislation is pending, the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association opposed the bill partly on the grounds that its “good Samaritan clause” might not adequately shield its members from liability.
But with food allergy reactions annually resulting in 200,000 emergency department visits, an increasing number of restaurateurs are opting to take advantage of laws allowing them to stock auto-injectors. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts last year announced plans to label its maps to indicate EpiPen availability. “Like life, severe allergic reactions are unpredictable, so people need to be prepared,” Heather Bresch, CEO of EpiPen manufacturer Mylan, was quoted as saying in a release.
Legislation allowing restaurants to keep EpiPens was introduced in the South Carolina Legislature this session, but didn’t progress toward passage.
“I just wonder if it might be worth discussing,” says Giordano, who reports his wedding client fully recovered. She suspects she may have suffered an adverse reaction to an insect bite.