Celiac Disease and Discrimination

It is tough for someone with celiac disease to safely dine out, especially when the plans include others that do not understand the disease. This mother of a two year old celiac child in Oklahoma just did what she had to do to keep her child safe. The group she was with decided to go to Pizza Hut so she stopped by McDonald’s and got her son a hamburger patty and fries then carried that food into the Pizza Hut. She was told by the management at Pizza Hut that she could not have the McDonald’s food in there and was asked to leave. I can see from this that celiac disease and discrimination will be a debated topic for years to come. Check out the article from the NewsOK website and let us know what you think.

The news article goes on to talk about celiac disease and its place as a disability.

The child’s mother, Candi Smithson, said the incident was much more than an inconvenience. She said it  violated her son’s rights as a person living with a disability. The mother claims food allergies that interfere with “major life activities” are considered disabilities.

Marca  Bristo, who helped craft the original Americans  with Disabilities Act during the late 1980s, agrees with Smithson.She served as chairman of the National  Council on Disability, a position she was appointed to by former President  Bill Clinton. “I do think she is right to challenge this,” Bristo said of the mother’s  ordeal. “The law’s not black and white, but if a food allergy affects life  activities, it’s got to be considered a disability and should fall under the  act.”

Bristo said the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990, was amended  in 2008 to broaden what are considered “major life activities.” She said the  changes were necessary because “the courts had narrowed the definition of the  law” up to that point. Eating is listed as major life activity in the amended act, which went into  effect Jan. 1, 2009. “I believe her situation is covered,” Bristo said. “But that is just my  opinion.”

Smithson said she has no plans to sue Pizza Hut over what occurred Tuesday.  She said she just wants to make sure her son gets a fair shot at living a normal life. “He’s got enough to worry about,” she said. “He’s only 2, but he realizes  he’s not eating the same things we are. “I just don’t think it’s right to make him feel that way … to make him feel  like he can’t even eat with his own family.”

This incident makes it clear that more education is needed for restaurants on how to cater to celiac and gluten free issues. If this place had handled this different it probably would not have been a news story but it would have made this little boy’s day better. The restaurant was the big loser here, not only did they loose the business of the entire group that day, I’m sure people in the local area that are aware of this incident will remember it.

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