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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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Food allergens: The hidden danger

Food allergens and the dangers they pose continue to make the news.

In recent years we’ve seen the Food Standards Agency recalling more and more products because they’ve been found to contain known allergens.

Some ingredients produce unpleasant side effects for those with an allergy or intolerance while others can result in fatalities.

Manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure that their products are properly labelled so that known food allergens or potential contamination is clearly marked.

In 2018, international sandwich chain Pret a Manger hit the headlines when 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse went into cardiac arrest and died after eating one of their sandwiches.

There was no advisory label on the sandwich or in the outlet that would have alerted Natasha to the fact that it contained sesame, something she was allergic to.

Following the tragic death, the chain implemented labelling on all their freshly made sandwiches.

More recently, the Co-op recalled doughnuts that were found to contain soya which wasn’t mentioned on the label and Lidl has recalled Baresta Pesto over concerns that it may contain peanuts.

Katrina Elsey, personal injury lawyer comments: “Allergic conditions or reactions have increased over recent years.

“Adequate allergy warnings on food products, in restaurants, supermarkets and takeaway stores are therefore vital to ensure consumer safety.

“I have represented many clients with a known nut allergy who have suffered an anaphylactic reaction after unwittingly consuming nuts either because products were incorrectly labelled or due to nut ingredients in dishes served to them in a restaurant or takeaway.

“Anaphylactic reactions can often cause high levels of distress and sometimes hospitalisation or even death. “

If you have suffered an allergic reaction from a food product that was either inadequately labelled or if a restaurant or takeaway failed to provide sufficient warning or information concerning allergens, you may be entitled to compensation. Call and speak to our friendly team today – 01302 320621 or email info@athertongodfrey.co.uk

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Boxer claims £300,000 after near fatal allergic reaction to a milkshake

The owners of a London café are fighting the amount of damages being claimed from them after failing to warn of nut allergens.

RGC Restaurants Ltd, owners of Campbell’s Canal Café in Camden, north London, were sued for £300,000 damages after a promising boxer had his career ended by a milkshake he bought there.

Allergy sufferer, Justyn Payne picked up a coconut milkshake after being told by staff that the drink was safe for someone with a nut allergy. In fact, the drink contained a substantial amount of cashew nut – more than 400 times the amount required for it to be labelled as containing allergens.

Justyn, who boxed for the London and England development teams and was a member of the Frank Bruno Boxing Academy, had an acute allergic reaction that caused him to have a heart attack. He was in an induced coma for five days and suffered a brain injury that effectively put an end to his career.

RGC who initially denied blame, dispute the amount of damages being claimed, describing it as only a ‘modest value claim’.

Diane Parker, head of personal injury, commented on the case: “Mr Payne was extremely fortunate to have survived such an acute reaction.

Restaurant staff don’t always take allergies seriously and may think a customer is just being a ‘fussy eater’ when they’re asked if food contains certain products. However, thousands of people are admitted to hospital each year after having an allergic reaction to something they ate.

This is precisely why the EU FIC Food Information for Consumers Regulations requires restaurants, cafes, takeaway’s etc, to notify customers if their products contain any of 14 known allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, molluscs and wheat.”

The High Court will determine whether the amount claimed by Mr Payne is a fair reflection of the likelihood that he would have had a career as a professional boxer, when the case goes to full trial in October.

Author: Gail Harris