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Teen Who Died From Sandwich Had Warned Eatery's Staff

Family of Owen Carey pushes for law listing allergens on menus after sandwich killed him
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2019 8:47 AM CDT
The Carey family is now pushing for a law to require better allergen info on restaurant menus in the UK.   (Getty Images/bhofack2)

(Newser) – When Owen Carey ordered a grilled chicken sandwich from the O2 Arena's Byron burger joint for his 18th birthday meal, the dish was listed on the menu as containing chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and "Byron sauce." What it didn't list was the buttermilk the chicken had been marinated in—and which a coroner has now ruled sent Carey into anaphylactic shock due to a dairy allergy and led to his death, per People. "The deceased made serving staff aware of his allergies," coroner Briony Ballard said in a statement read at a court inquest last week, per CNN. "The menu was reassuring in that it made no reference to any marinade or potential allergenic ingredient in the food selected." The court heard how Carey's lips started tingling and his stomach started bothering him halfway through his meal on April 22, 2017, the BBC reports.

He and his girlfriend left the restaurant to visit a nearby aquarium, but he collapsed in the street less than an hour later; he died shortly after at a hospital. "He knew exactly what he could and couldn't eat, and I think it's because we had drilled it into him from an early age," says Carey's father. A lawyer for the Carey family, which is now pushing for a new law that would add more comprehensive allergen information to restaurant menus, added at the inquest that general allergy information provided was in a hard-to-read section on the back of the Byron menu, per the Guardian. At the hearing, it was also revealed that Carey usually carried an EpiPen with him, but he'd forgotten it that day. Byron CEO Simon Wilkinson, meanwhile, says, "We take allergies extremely seriously and have robust procedures in place," though he adds, "We know that this will be of no comfort to Owen's family." (Read more allergies stories.)

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