Chicken burger kills teen on birthday, family demands stricter laws
In 2017, Owen Carey went to Byron's- a burger joint in London to celebrate his 18th birthday. Little did he know that it would be his last meal! He ordered a grilled chicken and told the restaurant about his dairy allergy. Despite this, Carey's meal was marinated in buttermilk, and after consuming a few bites he collapsed. Later, he died at a hospital.
Two years after his untimely demise, Carey's family got clarity about it. Last week, Southwark Coroner's Court stated that he died of "food-induced anaphylaxis" despite "making staff aware of his allergies". The court mentioned, "The menu was reassuring and made no reference to any marinade ingredient in the food selected", and Carey "was not informed that there were allergens in the order."
With the court's statement, Carey's family has received some sort of closure, but they want new laws. The family claimed the existing rules have "too big a room for error", and suggested that allergen's name should be mentioned beside each item on the display menu. "He was the shining light in our family, and his death should not have happened," Carey's sister Emma said.
"It is simply not good enough to have a policy which relies on verbal communication between the customer and their server, which often takes places in a busy, noisy restaurant where the turnover of staff is high and many of their customers are very young," his family said.
Following Carey's death, Byron's took steps to ensure that such an incident doesn't happen again. The online menu now contains information about allergens in their food products. In fact, the menu card has a small disclaimer at the bottom which states, "We'll do our very best to accommodate you but cannot guarantee that our kitchens or our suppliers are 100% allergen-free."
Meanwhile, a new law called "Natasha Law", which will be enacted from 2021 could save lives. The law was passed after a teen named Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died due to allergies as she ate a baguette at Heathrow airport. As per the law, to be implemented in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, food businesses will have to mention the complete ingredients on pre-packaged food.