Bill to require restaurant EpiPens killed - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Bill to require restaurant EpiPens killed

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

A bill that would have required restaurants to have EpiPens, in case someone has a food allergy attack, was killed for the year.

The legislature required schools to have EpiPens last year, after the death of a Chesterfield girl with a peanut allergy. So why did the restaurant bill go down?

Kia Symonds had a food allergy attack in a restaurant. She didn't have an EpiPen. Neither did the restaurant.

"I slowly began to feel some respiratory distress and there was no one there to help me," she told us.

Symonds had to wait for an ambulance. That's why she believes restaurants should have EpiPens. "You could save someone's life."

Firebirds Restaurants are already allergy sensitive. They have special menus for allergy sufferers, and prepare their meals separately. The Managing Partner of the Firebirds in Short Pump says being required to have an EpiPen would be no problem.

Said Manager Kim Puryear, "The cost is not a factor for us. We're going to provide thorough training for every staff member to ensure they know how to use an EpiPen."

But the cost of EpiPens is one of the concerns some restaurants have raised. They range from $40 to more than $100 per pen. They expire after a year and would need to be replaced.

Plus there's the cost of training restaurant staff how to use them.

Said Kristian Havard, spokesperson for the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, "You have to maintain current training for every new employee in an industry that sees a lot of turnover. So it can be a very heavy administrative burden, keeping that training up to date continuously."

Bob McNulty, General Manager of Sine Irish Pub in downtown Richmond, which also offers a gluten free menu for allergy sufferers, is concerned about the training cost, and liability, if someone with a heart condition were injected.

"If somebody hit somebody in an artery, that can go right to the heart, which can cause the heart to beat too fast and that can lead to death," McNulty explained.

So a House Committee set the bill aside this year. But its sponsor, Delegate and Dr. John O'Bannon, says he'll meet with restaurants and health leaders and try to get it passed again next year.

Symonds believes it's worth another try. "If someone can take two minutes and train the staff, that's not too much to ask when you talk about saving someone's life," she said.

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