Food allergy bill named after Danville girl who died is signed into state law

By Jon Kawamoto / East Bay Times

DANVILLE — A state bill urged by the family of a Danville girl who died tragically of a peanut allergy has been signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, who represents the 16th Assembly District. The bill is called the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Act, or AB 1532. It was named for Natalie Giorgi, who was 13 when she died in July 2013. She had a severe reaction to a Rice Krispies treat that contained peanut butter at a summer camp in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the bill into law Tuesday.

The new law protects individuals with severe food allergies by requiring all food handlers to have a certification in safe food handling practices for major food allegens, according to a news release from Assemblywoman Bauer-Kahan’s office.

AB 1532 also adds “organized camps” to the definition of “food facility” for the basis of requiring training for individuals who handle food at camp, the release stated.

Natalie’s parents, Louis and Joanne Giorgi, who live in Danville, created the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Foundation after her death and have become vocal advocates for food allergy safety. The foundation was created to reduce food allergy deaths by spreading public awareness, providing education regarding emergency responses and increasing the availability of epinephrine injectors in public places, according to the website.

“After learning of Natalie’s heartbreaking story and meeting with her parents and their foundation, I was inspired to act to ensure this never happens to another child,” Bauer-Kahan said at a June 26 press conference with the Giorgi family, urging passage of the bill. “An hour of a food handler’s time could literally save lives.”

In the United States, as many as 15 million people have a food allergy, including 6 million children. Food allergies result in more than 200,000 ambulatory care visits a year involving children under the age of 18, according to the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“We, the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Foundation, would first like to thank Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer Kahan for her leadership and her commitment to this life-threatening issue. We also thank her for her dedication in forging unanimous support from both houses on the gravity of this life issue,” the Giorgi family said in an email statement.

“We would like to thank Gov. Newsom for both his insight and his willingness to recognize the dangers of this epidemic, especially as awareness and education of the reality of food allergies is integral in defeating them.” the Giorgi family statement continued.