WC to post calories, allergy warning

May 11, 2009 3:44:50 PM PDT
Diners in Westchester County now get a lot more on their menu. Not more food, but more information about calories and ingredients that could cause allergies. Lindsey Orlofsky is allergic to peanuts.

"I would immediately go into shock," she said. "My throat would close up, I would have swelling, hives and eventually become unconscious."

To help protect food allergy sufferers like Orlofsky, Westchester County passed legislation mandating all restaurant menus include the following notice: "If you have a food allergy, please speak to the owner, manager, chef or your food server."

"It is an incredibly difficult thing for someone to eat somewhere when they have an allergy," county executive Andy Spano said. "And it's important that the wait staff, the chefs and everybody that is in involved take it seriously."

"If we are notified by the guest, we will immediately have our manager come over and they will walk through the menu," Cosi regional vice president Roberg Speirs said.

Another new county law now requires chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus and menu boards.

County leaders are confident people will actually change their food order to a healthier option once they see the calorie counts, and much of that confidence is based on what happened after New York City passed similar legislation last year.

"In fact, the research suggests people reduce their orders by about 100 calories when they have this information," Westchester County health commissioner Joshua Lipsman said.

"It gives me a better opportunity to know what I'm putting into my system," restaurant patron Carmine Vella said.

County health inspectors will enforce the calorie count and allergy notice measures. Restaurants that do not comply could face fines up to $1,000.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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