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Food allergy: law change campaigns bring hope

Eating out can be a nightmare for many food allergy sufferers who rely on food providers to properly identify ingredients that have the potential to be fatal.

Last year, 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, died after she had an allergic reaction to ingredients in a baguette sandwich she had bought at Pret-a-Manger. The tragedy has led to Natasha’s Law being introduced this year which requires a full list of ingredients to be shown on foods pre-packaged on site, such as sandwiches.

Now, the family of another teenager who died after eating food he was allergic to are campaigning for more to be done.

Owen Carey had a dairy allergy, which he informed staff about when he ordered skinny grilled chicken at Byron’s O2 Arena branch when he was out celebrating his 18th birthday in  2017. Tragically, unknown to Owen, buttermilk was included in the dish he ate. He went into anaphylactic shock and died shortly after.

Owen’s family believe the current food labelling regulations leave far too much room for error. As a result, they are launching a campaign for Owen’s Law, which will see every restaurant menu clearly specify allergens in their dishes.

Owen’s father, Paul said: “The buttermilk marinade wasn’t stated on the menu and was not conveyed by the waiter.

“Some customers, young customers, might even be afraid to ask about allergens. If you write in word or symbols on the menu what the allergens are for each dish, nobody has to ask.”

The family have met with the Food Standards Agency and have written to the government body responsible for food safety, calling for the change in the law; they are waiting for a response.

Although the family has received a letter of apology from Byron’s chief executive, they have not received any compensation for their loss.

Mr Owen said: “Byron’s insurers refused to pay any damages and only offered to pay a proportion of the legal and funeral costs.

He added: “We weren’t looking to profit from Owen’s death, we would have donated the money to the charity Anaphylaxis Campaign, which supports people at risk from serious allergies.

“You can’t quantify in monetary terms how much we miss Owen. But we’re not doing this for money, we just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Any business that sells or serves food has an obligation to warn customers if anything they serve contains any of the known food allergens. If you suffer injury after consuming allergens you were not advised about, then you may be able to claim compensation. Call and have a no obligation chat with our friendly professionals – 01302 320621.

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