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Food Allergy-Related Injuries

Last week Happy Planet Foods, Inc. ordered a large-scale recall of its chocolate banana protein smoothies after a food safety investigation revealed that the product contained cashews. The nuts were not declared on the label, which posed a significant health risk to consumers who purchased it.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are the immune system’s response to a specific food or additive. Allergic reactions range in severity from itching and hives to anaphylactic shock and death. Food allergies are more prevalent among children, and while a majority outgrow the allergy over time, many have to monitor their allergies for the rest of their lives.

State Law

In Maryland, food establishments are required to prominently display a poster relating to food allergy awareness in the staff area. The poster must also include information about the risk of allergic reactions.

A law that went into effect last year requires employees who take food orders to ask a customer to inform him or her of any known food allergies. The request can be either:

• Included on the menu; or

• Made by the employee taking the customer’s order.

Food establishments in Maryland must also have an employee on the premises when food is being prepared who:

• Has completed a food allergen awareness training course;

• Has passed a department-approved and accredited test; and

• Is available to discuss meal options with customers who have food allergies.

In order to facilitate this rule, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene must make available on its website:

• A list of approved online and in-person food allergen awareness training programs and tests; and

• A list of resources about food safety and food handling as they relate to food allergies.

Federal Law

Federal law also requires food manufacturers to disclose the presence of the most common allergens that may be contained in their products, such as:

●Milk;

●Eggs;

●Fish;

●Shellfish;

●Peanuts;

●Tree nuts;

●Wheat; and

●Soy.

Products that contain these ingredients must be labelled appropriately, with the word “contains” printed after the list of ingredients, followed by the name of the allergen. Alternatively, a manufacturer can list the common name of the allergen in the ingredients list, followed by the food source from which it is derived.

The only exceptions to the labeling rules are when:

●The name of the allergen contains the name of its food source; or

●The name of the food source from which the allergen derives is printed somewhere else on the label.

When products are improperly labelled and a person suffers an allergic reaction as a result, the food manufacturer or food service establishment, such as a restaurant, can be held liable for the victim’s medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If you have suffered an allergic reaction or lost a loved one due to a food allergy that was the result of a manufacturer or food establishment’s negligent actions, an experienced attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation for the harm you suffered. Please contact the Charles County, Maryland personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Robert R. Castro for a free initial consultation.

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