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Do Restaurants Have to Provide Food Allergy Warnings?

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Updated January 24, 2011

Question: Do Restaurants Have to Provide Food Allergy Warnings?
I like to eat out, but I have food allergies. Are restaurants required to list food allergens in their food? Are they covered by the FDA food labeling law?
Answer:

The short answer is no, but as always, there are exceptions.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) does not require retail or food service companies that make food to order to give ingredient lists or allergy warnings to customers. However, if the restaurant or food service company makes prepackaged food and sells it, they are required to list ingredients with allergy warnings.

A grocery store that offers prepackaged salads in containers for sale is required to list ingredients and give allergy warnings. A fast-food restaurant that makes you a burger and puts it in a box is not.

The biggest danger when eating in restaurants in the possibility of cross-contamination. Ask to talk to the chef or use a dining card to explain your allergies.

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