This Restaurant Food May Serve Up a Heaping Plate of Cancer

4 years ago

For years I've seen printed at the bottom of menus helpful reminders that certain foods may be dangerous for women who are pregnant or those with compromised immune systems. It's usually a simple statement about raw eggs or mercury in fish, things that you nod at and either say, "sure, I'll take a chance on the Caesar salad or sushi" or abstain from those menu items.

But @Jensthebosse had a Tweet yesterday about a sign she saw posted on the wall in a Yard House restaurant in Kansas.

The sign read:

WARNING: CHEMICALS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF KANSAS TO CAUSE CANCER, OR BIRTH DEFECTS OR OTHER REPRODUCTIVE HARM MAY BE PRESENT IN FOODS OR BEVERAGES SOLD OR SERVED HERE.

Gulp.

It's fairly vague, but it does give one pause.  Which beverages?  Which food?  Are we talking about the Diet Coke?  Or something I never suspected such as the Green Goddess dressing?

Image: Gregg O'Connell via Flickr

I went online to see if other states have similar signs mostly because we don't have them here in Washington, D.C. (or, at least, not in any restaurant I've been in lately).  I found the answer to the Yard House restaurant sign that Jennifer saw:

The sign refers to the mercury in swordfish, which may lead to cancer if ingested in massive quantities.

Wheeew, I'm safe.  I've never had swordfish.

But the search also brought up California's Proposition 65, which requires restaurants to post warnings if they serve foods that contain any chemicals that is on their known-toxin list.  There are 750 substances on the list.

California was the only state I could find that required restaurants to disclose that they may be serving food that has the potential to possibly cause cancer (wait... what does?), but Jennifer's sign was in Kansas, and the example in the Yard House restaurant above was in Georgia, so it seems as if certain chains are posting cancer warning signs even without being required by law.

Have you ever eaten in a restaurant that had a similar sign on the wall?  And would it ever make you rethink eating the food if you were presented with a vague warning about the possible presence of cancer-causing agents?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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