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  1. ITV Report

Family of Owen Carey who suffered fatal allergic reaction at Byron demand changes to the law

The family of a teenager from Sussex who died after suffering a severe allergic reaction to a burger he ate on his 18th birthday, are demanding changes to the law.

Owen Carey, from Crowborough, visited the Byron restaurant at the O2 Arena in Greenwich in April 2017.

Despite telling the waiter that he was allergic to dairy, he was still served chicken soaked in buttermilk.

Now, his family want to see changes to the law:

  • For it to be mandatory for customers to be asked by servers if they have any allergies
  • For allergy protocol to be tighter
  • For better training
  • For labelling on menus to be clearer
  • For a more comprehensive allergy matrix to be held behind the scenes in restaurants

We don't want anyone to go through what we've gone through. To lose someone so integral to your life is just the most painful thing and I don't want anyone to have to go through that again.

– Emma Kosher, Owen's sister

An inquest into his death, held in September, heard that the restaurant's menu did not show that the burger he ordered contained dairy in the form of buttermilk.

A representative of the company said there were ingredients in dishes that were "not elaborated" on and customers needed to ask staff for help if they had allergies.

The medical cause of death was given as severe food-induced anaphylaxis.

Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

He collapsed less than an hour after first experiencing an allergic reaction to his meal and was taken to hospital where he died.

The coroner ruled: "The deceased made serving staff aware of his allergies. The menu was reassuring in that it made no reference to any marinade or potential allergenic ingredient in the food selected. The deceased was not informed that there were allergens in the order."

He added: "The food served to and consumed by the deceased contained dairy which caused the deceased to suffer a severe anaphylactic reaction from which he died."

We take allergies extremely seriously and have robust procedures in place and although those procedures were in line with all the rules and guidelines, we train our staff to respond in the right way."

It is a matter of great regret and sadness that our high standards of communicating with our customers were not met during Owen's visit." We will make it our priority to work with our colleagues across the restaurant industry to ensure that standards and levels of awareness are improved."

– Simon Wilkinson, CEO, Byron
Byron has since changed its procedures related to allergies. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The food chain Byron has since made changes. Servers can only send orders to the kitchen once they have confirmed they have asked the customer about allergies.

The menu at Byron now has an allergy message, covering just under a third of a page.

The Byron menu now has a clear allergy message. Credit: ITV News Meridian