Food allergies and other types of food hypersensitivities affect millions of Americans and their families. Food allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts to certain proteins in food. Food allergic reactions vary in severity from mild symptoms involving hives and lip swelling to severe, life-threatening symptoms, often called anaphylaxis, that may involve fatal respiratory problems and shock. There are nine major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and sesame. More information about food allergies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is available in the resources section below.
To protect those with food allergies and other hypersensitivities, IDPH and local health departments enforce regulations requiring food businesses to list ingredients on packaged food and drinks. Local health departments also enforce regulations requiring restaurants to train kitchen managers in allergen awareness and posting signage.
Food Allergen Awareness Training for Certified Food Protection Managers
Restaurants can train staff on food allergies and how serious they can be to reduce and to prevent food allergy reactions. In Illinois, certified food protection managers working in a restaurant must complete additional training using an accredited allergen awareness training program that should be completed within 30 days of employment and recertified every three years.
Find an ANSI accredited allergen awareness training program here: All Directory Listing (ansi.org).
Food Allergen Notices
Restaurants in Illinois are required to display notices informing consumers that information regarding food allergies should be communicated to an employee of the restaurant. The employee who receives the information about the food allergy must communicate the information to the restaurant’s person in charge or certified food protection manager.
IDPH has created a Notice to Consumer sign that meets the requirements and is available for download here. https://dph.illinois.gov/content/dam/soi/en/web/idph/files/publications/foodallergyawarenessnotice.pdf
Other Allergens in Food Establishments
Illinois has passed legislation to protect individuals with latex allergies through a latex glove ban. Food establishments may not allow employees to use latex gloves in the preparation and handling of food.
If non-latex gloves are not available due to a supply crisis, latex gloves may be used. If latex gloves are used, a sign should be prominently displayed at the point or order or point of purchase notifying the public of a temporary change.