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The Importance of Stocking Epinephrine in Food Service Venues

Food service businesses are called upon to build on the cross contact avoidance protocols by stock EAIs, right next to the AEDs many of them already have on hand.
smiling white woman in pink shirt and green apron serving plates of food to 3 smiling diners

Everyone is eating more and more food prepared commercially at restaurants of all types. When eating out, those managing diagnosed life threatening food allergies have to be hyper-vigilant in their communications with food service staff at all levels by confirming ingredient lists and the use of effective cross-contamination safety protocols, like those taught by MenuTrinfo. For those with undiagnosed food allergies, they often discover their allergy by having their first anaphylactic reaction while eating out.

The remedy for this risk is for food service establishments to stock non-patient-specific epinephrine-auto-injectors, right next to the AEDs many of them already have on hand. They will be following the lead of many schools and other entities that are safely stocking epinephrine. Doing so builds on existing protocols of avoiding cross contact during service.

While there is always room for improvement, college food services are doing a slightly better job. University of Rochester was an early adopter and University of Delaware recently began stocking epinephrine. Generally speaking, independent and chain restaurants focus on cross contact avoidance rather than stocking.

One of the main reasons, says Betsy Craig, CEO of MenuTrinfo, “College students spend $40,000 per year. The average dinner check is $40-$60.” Additionally, college food service departments are supported by other university services, Student Health, Security, etc. Restaurants outside of large venues often lack those services.

Another reason is the general fear of needles many of us share. There is a bit of good news on the development of needle free epinephrine. After initial FDA approval was followed by a challenge from EAI makers. ARS Pharma, the manufacturer of epinephrine nasal spray Neffy, has submitted the research expected to clear the concerns. This will hopefully result in FDA approval in the coming months. Dave Bloom at Snack Safely is regularly posting on Neffy’s approval status and the impact on the food allergy community.

While Neffy, or any other non-needle epinephrine delivery system works its way through the system, food service establishments are encouraged to build on the cross-contamination avoidance protocols they have in place and stock non-patient-specific epinephrine.

Anyone can suffer an anaphylactic reaction. If diners with diagnosed and undiagnosed cardiac issues are not expected to carry their own AEDs, neither should those managing life threatening allergies be expected to carry EAIs. While many with known food allergies do carry EAIs, they are sometimes forgotten. We call on all food service venues to safely stock epinephrine.