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Liability for fatal allergic reactions at restaurants

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2020 | Premises Liability |

New York is known for some of the best restaurants in the world. New York City is also home to the most Michelin-star restaurants in any U.S. city. Unfortunately, even top tier restaurants can become hazardous to people who suffer from food allergies. The more complex the menu, the more likely this is as people often do not know or understand the ingredients included in their meals. 

One study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine shared that 15 million people in America suffer from food allergies. What makes things more complicated when eating out is that while only eight ingredients account for 90% of food allergies, these are some of the most commonly found ingredients in meals. These foods include shellfish, nuts, eggs, fish and even milk. While some people experience rashes or stomach upset, others may die from anaphylactic reactions. 

Another finding of the study is that 10% of restaurant managers believe that people do not need to adhere to strict diets to protect themselves. They believe that consuming a small amount of food someone is allergic to will not cause any harm. While this is true of some people, it is a death sentence for others. The prevalence of food service workers who do not speak English as their primary language can also lead to miscommunication. 

When allergic reactions turn fatal, who is responsible? MarketWatch explains that it is difficult to prove the restaurant’s liability in these cases. This is especially the case when the restaurant does not make the final product or uses ingredients from a supplier that it claims is to blame. For example, a coffee shop may blame the supplier of their muffin bakers for nut allergies. The loose wording of laws in New York and other states also make it especially difficult for people to get the compensation they deserve without professional assistance.