The Importance of Developing Universal Food Safety Protocols

September 26, 2021 Dr. Sonja Burmeister, Food Allergy Mom, Doctorate and Professor of Occupational Therapy specializing in Pediatrics, Physicians Assistant, Certified in Early Intervention (OTD, MSPA-C, OTR/L, EICP-OT)

Adopting a safe food handling protocol is essential for saving lives.  Recently a law was passed in California as a result of the unfortunate death of a 13 year old girl.  Governor Newsom of California signed the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Act in honor of Natalie Giorgi who passed away as a result of severe allergic reaction due to accidental exposure to an undeclared peanut.  This unfortunate incidence occurred while Natalie was away at camp.

Most parents of children with food allergies fear allowing their child out of their own personal care, yet struggle with a child’s burgeoning need for independence.  Educating children as advocates for their own personal safety is the best first line of defense, however as witnessed in this story, we need a supportive community and universal standards for responding to food allergen exposure.

The inclusion of camps into the growing list of “Food Facilities” mandated by law to undergo certification in safe food handling is one means of implementing preventative measures.  Existing California Law (AB 1532: mandates uniform health and sanitation standards for retail food facilities with local enforcement.  The identified person in charge of all food handling employees must have adequate knowledge and be properly trained in food safety as it relates to their assigned duties.  This includes adequate knowledge of major food allergens and the symptomatology that major allergens can cause.

Education and universal standards for action are essential in preventing catastrophic events, such as the unfortunate allergen exposure and anaphylaxis of Natalie Giorgi. We, as a general public, have the power to implement standardized measures of care to protect every child with food allergy.