People with food allergies can have a hard time eating at restaurants. Sometimes, you can’t avoid a restaurant where it’s difficult to order a safe meal. Some examples may include:
- Attending a business event
- Bringing your young child with food allergies to family parties
What’s a person with food allergies to do? This topic came up in December 2015, when Kids With Food Allergies hosted a webinar, Current Topics in Food Allergy Law. Our guests were the three attorneys from the Allergy Law Project: Laurel Francoeur, Esq., Mary Vargas, Esq., and Homa Woodrum, Esq.
They later answered a follow-up question for us about restaurant accommodations for food allergies.
Recently, on their blog, they answered a related question: can a person with allergies bring outside food into a restaurant if a safe meal is not available? Unfortunately, there is not a lot of legal guidance on this specific issue.
In their post, “A Seat at the Table – Bringing Allergy Friendly Food to Restaurants,” they write that most restaurants are places of public accommodation, subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This means that restaurants may have to change so people with disabilities have equal access. In most cases, this means that the restaurant will most likely have to allow a customer with a food allergy to bring in their own food.
Other places where this could also apply include:
- Indoor party places for children
- Theme parks or water parks
- Sports facilities, such as ballparks or indoor sports arenas
The restaurant or place of business may complain if they can show legitimate safety concerns. But those concerns must be considered with the customer's right for access and inclusion heavily weighted.
See the Allergy Law blog for more detail about this issue.
For a list of allergy-friendly restaurant chains, check out the 2016 list from AllergyEats. AllergyEats collects diner feedback to create their annual list.