Restaurant Association Expels Breastfeeding Mom From Convention

Association says longstanding ban on children intended as safety measure.

ByABC News
May 19, 2014, 12:21 PM

May 19, 2014 -- Don't try feeding your baby at the National Restaurant Association convention: That's the lesson nursing mother Kristin Osborne says she got when she tried to nurse her 10-day-old son at the group's trade show in Chicago.

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Osborne, head of marketing for her family's Four Daughters Vineyard in Spring Valley, Minnesota, told the Chicago Tribune she understood that children were not permitted at Sunday's show, which prohibits children under 16 from attending. But she never expected that the prohibition would apply to a nursing mother and her newborn baby.

After spending an hour at the show, she sat in a chair to breastfeed. Shortly afterwards, she walked by a security booth, whose personnel told her she would have to leave.

"I understand not having kids run around or not having strollers," Osborne said. "A tiny, breast-feeding infant, I hope, would be an exception to this rule."

It wasn't.

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Sue Hensley, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, told ABC News today that Osborne was asked to leave not because she was breastfeeding, but because of the show's longstanding policy against allowing anyone under the age of 16 to attend the Show. And attendees who are 16 to 18 are permitted only if accompanied by an adult.

"There are no exceptions," she said, noting the rule is matter of safety, and has to do with the physical dangers intrinsic to the show, including the presence of knives, ovens and open flames.

She noted that McCormick Place, home to the Show, has designated areas where infants are welcome and where feeding them is permitted.

ABC News also reached out to Osborne for comment but was told by a representative for Four Daughters Winery that she was busy caring for her son and other children.