Free Minds & Free Markets

Mandatory Allergen Labels Are a Double-Edged Sword: New at Reason

RICHARD B. LEVINE/NewscomRICHARD B. LEVINE/NewscomEdison Township, New Jersey, could become the first municipality in the nation to require restaurants and caterers operating there to post information about the presence of allergens in every dish they serve.

The proposed ordinance, included in a recent committee report, requires warnings for the eight foods for which the FDA requires warnings if the foods are packaged—including milk, eggs, and peanuts—as well as MSG (monosodium glutamate) and added sulfites (such as those found in wines).

Food allergies are a real problem, and people who have them are most likely to encounter allergens while dining out. But as Baylen Linnekin writes, the law could saddle restaurants and caterers with huge liabilities. And for many consumers, the ordinance also wouldn't likely solve the main problems it's intended to address.

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