In March 2013, Brian Shimmerlik and his project partner Tomas Grosskopf received $17,500 in funding and free office space to develop their taxi vending machine concept to reality. The TaxiTreats vending machine would include sodas, energy drinks, snacks, over-the-counter medication, cologne and condoms.
Five percent of the population has a food allergy with the most common culprits being milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts), soy, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish (lobster, crabs, shrimp). Allergic reactions can range from hives and wheezing to anaphylactic shock resulting in death.
Foods do not need to be consumed to cause a severe allergic reaction; allergens can enter the bloodstream through inhalation and skin contact.
For example, if someone consumes a bag full of peanuts in the vehicle, the peanut proteins become airborne and if the next passenger has a severe allergy to peanuts, they can experience scary symptoms of anaphylactic shock within minutes.
Another example is if someone handles peanut butter by consuming peanut butter sandwich cookies or anything similar and then touches the side panels of the doors or crumbs fall into the seat. Any sensitive passenger whose skin contacts the 'contaminated' area is at risk for a severe reaction.
The other issue at hand is the access to fragrances in the vehicle. As many as 25% of the population is allergic to the chemicals in fragrances. The threat of someone buying a fragrance and dousing themself in the vehicle prior to exiting is a severe health threat for some, who parallel this allergy to second-hand smoke.
Since many people are not aware of the dangers of airborne allergic reactions and high risk of 'contamination' within the vehicle, handling snacks and food products in public transportation vehicles can become a serious liability for the state under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 which has recently been extended to protect people with severe food allergies. Inhalation of food particles, skin contact from 'contamination' within the vehicle (on seats and interiors/handles, etc.) and inhalation of the numerous chemicals in fragrances sprayed within the vehicle can cause life-threatening reactions for those with severe food or fragrance allergies.
Everyone has a right to a comfortable and safe ride to and from their intended destination. Please continue to keep NYC taxis and limousines safe for people with severe allergies.