Family campaigns for new allergy law after teenager dies after consuming a chicken burger at popular chain restaurant

September 17th, 2019

The family of a teenager who died after eating a chicken burger at a popular chain restaurant is calling for new laws to be introduced to protect people with severe food allergies.

Owen Carey, 18, died after suffering a reaction to a grilled chicken burger at Byron Burger at the O2 Arena, London. Owen had severe dairy allergies, and had informed the waiter that he couldn’t have anything that contained dairy. Having ordered a plain chicken burger, the teenager, who had been celebrating his 18th birthday, collapsed after eating half of the chicken and later died. He was not made aware that the chicken had been prepared using buttermilk.

Following the coroner’s inquest, which confirmed that the teenager had spoken to staff about his allergies and that no information was available on the menu about dairy products in this specific product, Owen’s family have called for tougher laws. Emma Kocher, Owen’s sister, said that her brother’s tragic death could have been prevented, and urged the government to introduce new laws, which eliminate the risk of mistakes and male allergen information clear and accessible. Having a policy reliant on verbal communication was insufficient, Ms Kocher claimed, and the family are desperate for something positive to emerge from their loss. 

The calls echo those made by the family of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger, which contained sesame seeds. Natasha’s parents have been campaigning for new guidelines for pre-packed foods and they have made great strides since her untimely death. A new law, Natasha’s Law, will come into force in October 2020. 

Based on their own experience and the similarly painful loss of Natasha, Owen’s family are pressing for a more stringent law, which covers every menu. The burger Owen ordered simply listed the ingredients as grilled chicken, Byron sauce, shredded iceberg, tomato, red onion and pickles, with no reference to buttermilk. The listing and subsequent failure of staff to identify the potential risk of serving the burger, lead to Owen’s death, and his father, mother and sister are determined to ensure that nobody else has to go through the same nightmare they are enduring.

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