AUSTIN (KXAN) – A Texas mother who lost her son nine years ago spent Tuesday trying to convince House lawmakers to support a bill that supporters say would raise awareness of food allergies at restaurants.
Senate Bill 812 or the Sergio Lopez Food Allergy Awareness Act would require restaurants to display posters about food allergens where employees can see them.
According to the bill text, the poster must include information regarding:
- the risk of an allergic reaction to a food allergen
- symptoms of an allergic reaction
- the major food allergens, as determined by federal law and regulations of the Food and Drug Administration
- the procedures for preventing an allergic reaction
- appropriate responses for assisting an individual who is having an allergic reaction
Senate Bill 812 was authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. It passed the Senate on April 6. The bill needed one more vote before it could be approved by the House after Monday night.
The bill is named for Sergio Lopez.
His mother Belinda Vaca said Lopez, died in 2014 from an allergic reaction after eating at a restaurant in McAllen.
Vaca said Lopez asked three times if the veggie taco he ordered had peanuts. She said the restaurant told her son the taco only contained spices.
Vaca said the restaurant told her the next day the taco contained peanut butter. “I let them know my only child had died at one o’clock in the morning after coming into their restaurant the day before. Their response was, well he asked about peanuts not peanut butter. My son died because of ignorance,” Vaca said.
The Texas Restaurant Association told KXAN in a statement Tuesday it supports the bill. “The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) worked with medical experts to craft SB 812, which we fully support because it adopts practical, statewide standards to prevent life-threatening allergic reactions. Food allergens are a growing concern, and restaurants take their public health responsibilities very seriously. The TRA has trained restaurant team members to prevent allergic reactions with ServSafe education programs and other resources for many years. With SB 812, we can build on this work to protect Texans,” said the TRA.