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May 10- 16th is Food Allergy Awareness Week

Posted by Jen Rossi on May 12, 2015 7:11:00 PM


How To Address Food Allergies In The Office

Food Allergies may be considered a disability under current federal laws, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the ADA Amendment Act of 2008.

It is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. Regardless of the employment status of a person with a food allergy, reasonable accommodations must be made by an employer so that the employee will be safe and included in the workplace.

While a food allergy can start at any age, Children are the majority of patients with this condition, as it affects 1 in every 13 children in the U.S. (That's roughly two children in every classroom) Food allergies are on the rise, there has been an increase of 50% of between 1997 and 2011.

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So what can you do?

  • Be aware of food allergies by including this on your health record form when new employees start with your company. Keep these allergies in mind when planning meetings and trainings where food may be available.
  • Encourage employees to be First Aid or CPR certified. These training programs will train your staff of the signs of anaphylaxis and how to react.
  • Be able to accommodate for employees with a food allergy. Many adults with food allergies will prefer to bring their own meals to work. It is important that the food is not contaminated or tampered with. An employee may ask for a designated space within a shared cupboard or a personal refrigerator or food storage within their workspace.
  • Flex time may be required to accommodate for an employee with severe allergies. Unexpected leave due to allergies or medical appointments may be necessary.
  • Be prepared for an alternative to lunches with clients, coworkers, or supervisors. An employee with a food allergy may be able to recommend a restaurant that they are comfortable ordering food from. If not, coffee or happy hour drinks may be an alternative setting.
  • Include other activities for team-building so that participants with food allergies will be included.

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Topics: Wellness, Safety At Work, For Your Business