Legislative sessions are underway in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals across the country. That means there are many opportunities for food allergy advocates to push legislators on policies that will improve research, access and safety.
In Washington, D.C.
After several years of prodding by the food allergy community, Congress passed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act last November, providing an incentive for states to require the availability of stock epinephrine in their schools. That success raised the sensitivity of lawmakers to the needs of families struggling with food allergies and improves the environment for progress on other fronts.
Building on that success, FARE is focusing on improved funding for food allergy research at the National Institutes of Health and other federal facilities, as well as funding to support the purchase of epinephrine and training programs in the nation’s schools. FARE’s federal agenda also includes initiatives to address surveillance of food allergies (i.e., comprehensive surveys to understand how many people are affected by the disease) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and greater clarity in labeling requirements by the Food & Drug Administration.
Last year 18 states passed legislation addressing stock epinephrine in schools, and that momentum has continued in 2014; new states are providing for stock epinephrine in schools on an almost weekly basis.
The precedent established in the K-12 system is now being seen in higher education as well, with New Jersey becoming the first state in the nation to require its colleges and universities to establish policies to stock and train in the administration of epinephrine on their campuses. Similar legislation has also been signed into law in Indiana, and FARE is staging campaigns in additional states.
The Massachusetts restaurant food allergy awareness law has long been admired by members of the food allergy community and this year FARE is pursuing similar legislation in several states. Taking as its foundation the restaurant training program developed jointly by the National Restaurant Association and FARE, the initiative would require that restaurant staff with food allergy training be available during all hours of operation. Menus would have to advise customers to communicate their allergy and posters in the restaurant would educate staff about the severity of food allergies. Bills are currently pending in other states, and FARE is providing support to advocates pursuing the legislation.
The safety of those with food allergies has increasingly become a public health concern at the state level as well. Bills are being introduced around the country that would make epinephrine, and the training in its administration, widely available in public places, including day care centers, restaurants, theaters, health clubs, and sports arenas, among others. The most important component of these bills is broad liability protection for establishments and “Good Samaritans” using epinephrine on someone they believe is suffering from anaphylaxis.
The success of these and other efforts is directly dependent on the involvement of food allergy advocates. In 2014, FARE will continue to speak out for the community and offer opportunities for advocates to make their voices heard. If you haven’t already, please join the FARE Advocates Network by visiting
This article was originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.