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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Next Stop Please

I read an article tonight about a family that is suing Subway because their daughter had a fatal reaction to peanut in one of their restaurants. This case is very interesting. The key question will likely be whether or not Subway exercised sufficient care in the way it handled food.

I have received emails and read message board posts about Subway's careless food handling practices, at least with respect to severe food allergy. Based on first-hand observation I have often seen Subway employees go straight from handling cookies to handling sandwich ingredients. The risk of cross-contamination is obvious and I would never let my daughter eat Subway due to her severe peanut allergy.

Whether or not this lawsuit is successful, look for the case to have a major impact on how restaurants operate. What do you think corporate lawyers will say about the heightened risk associated with food allergy after this incident?

Though the knee jerk reaction will likely be for peanut cookies to be removed from Subway stores, there are other allergies to consider and what is really needed is comprehensive food allergy training and awareness for employees. Staff in these restaurants are often young and do not seem to appreciate the seriousness of severe food allergy.

My deepest condolences to this young girl's family.