NPR has published a writer’s comparison of his experiences eating at restaurants in the United States and the United Kingdom while living with a peanut allergy. “Restaurants in the United Kingdom are generally far more vigilant, in this regard, than restaurants in the United States,” the author observes. He recounts his experience being turned away from a U.K. restaurant after answering the server’s question about food allergies by receiving a card explaining that the restaurant does “not operate in a surgical environment” and therefore could not guarantee that any of its menu items did not contain peanuts. “In America, the onus typically falls more on diners themselves,” the author notes. “It’s not routine, as it is in England, for servers to ask their customers proactively.” The writer credits coverage of a U.K. teenager’s death after eating a sandwich from Pret A Manger that was not labeled as containing sesame for the establishment of routine allergen questions in U.K. restaurants as well as the passage of a law that will require additional allergen labeling when it takes effect in 2021.

The perspective follows up on NPR’s previous reporting on a JAMA Network Open study purportedly finding that sesame allergies may be more widespread than researchers and regulators previously understood, affecting as many as 0.49% of Americans—1.6 million people—rather than 0.2% as previously thought. Sesame labeling has become a focus for many legislators; Illinois enacted a law requiring labeling of the allergen, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.K. Food Standards Authority have initiated investigations into the prevalence and effects of sesame allergies.

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