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Allergic Reactions to Restaurant Foods

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Does a Restaurant Have a Duty to Tell Me What Ingredients Are in a Meal?

Generally, a restaurant does not have a duty to disclose the ingredients in its products.  If a customer asks a restaurant if particular ingredients are being used, then a restaurant has the choice to provide the information and any necessary warnings to its customers.

Is a Restaurant Liable for Injuries I Suffer due to Allergic Reactions to Their Food?

A customer can inform the restaurant about his existing allergies and ask the restaurant whether the particular ingredients are being used in the restaurant?s dishes.  The restaurant is under no duty to disclose this information to the patron.

However, if the restaurant voluntarily assumes a duty to provide information regarding its ingredients to the inquiring patron, then most states will find that the restaurant must use due care to share accurate information.  If a restaurant voluntarily provides a customer with information that is wrong and the restaurant's mistake leads to a serious allergic reaction, then the customer may be able to sue the restaurant for negligence. 

What about MSG?

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a chemical commonly used to enhance taste by increasing the sensitivity of the taste buds; contrary to popular belief, it is not a food seasoning.  A reaction to MSG is not an allergic reaction, but rather a drug reaction.  MSG reactions can be very dangerous in some individuals.

There is no law stating that a restaurant must disclose the use of MSG in its dishes.  However, courts have recognized that those who sell food products, including restaurant owners, have a legal duty to warn their customers about the presence of MSG.   If a restaurant owner or food distributor knew or should have known about the presence of MSG and fails to disclose the information, then he can be held liable for any injuries resulting from their negligence. 

Should I Consult a Lawyer about My Injuries?

If you or a loved one has been injured, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies.  A personal injury lawyer can help you file a claim against the restaurant and recover damages for your injuries.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 02-05-2013 04:37 PM PST

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