Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Restaurant Owners Need To Obtain "Product Liability And Completed Operations Insurance" To Cover "Gluten-Free" Menu Items

“…a growing trend toward “gluten-free” menu items at America’s restaurants and catered events is increasing the demand for product liability and completed operations insurance, designed to protect food-service businesses against lawsuits arising from bad reactions to food products…”

The “gluten-free” trend is helping many establishments appeal to millions of Americans who are seeking gluten-free options for a variety of reasons, including gluten sensitivities (claimed by up to 10 percent of Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health) and celiac disease (diagnosed in about 1 percent of the U.S. population, or 3 million people). While offering more options for these customers makes for good public relations, it also opens the door to a new level of potential liability.

While any restaurant could face a lawsuit arising from alleged food poisoning or food allergies, those promising “gluten-free” menu items are at even greater risk of a lawsuit if a customer should choose these options and still have a reaction. Because there are currently no standards that define exactly what constitutes “gluten-free,” some restaurants may be promoting a “gluten-free” product that is prepared in the same area as foods containing gluten, raising the potential for cross-contamination. While many people with sensitivities may not have reactions to small amounts of gluten, others with higher levels of sensitivity could have a severe reaction, raising the potential for lawsuits.

Thankfully, food service businesses — including restaurants, catering businesses, and other food service providers — can protect themselves against the high cost of lawsuits by purchasing a type of insurance known as “product liability and completed operations” coverage. This insurance not only covers lawsuits related to gluten reactions, but also those related to other food allergies, food poisoning, or other injuries or damages caused by the products a restaurant or caterer sells.

For more:  http://www.restaurantnews.com/gluten-free-trend-spurs-demand-for-restaurant-liability-insurance/

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