A teenager who suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating chicken marinated with buttermilk at Byron Burger was ‘reassured by the wording of the menu’, a coroner has ruled.
Owen Carey, died after celebrating his 18th birthday with family at the restaurant in London’s 02 Arena on April 22 2017.
His family are now calling for an ‘Owen’s Law’ to ensure restaurants have better allergen labelling.
Mr Carey collapsed outside the London Eye 55 minutes after experiencing signs of a reaction.
Mr Carey ate half of his chicken and stopped when his lips started tingling and he started having stomach problems.
He was rushed to St Thomas Hospital in central London where he died.
Speaking after the hearing Mr Carey’s sister Emma Kocher said her brother’s death could have been prevented.
She said: ‘It’s simply not good enough to have a policy which relies on verbal communication between the customer and their server, which often takes place in a busy, noisy restaurant where the turnover of staff is high and many of their customers are very young.
‘This leaves far too much room for error on an issue we know far too well can cost lives. We hope we can bring about change with Owen’s Law for better allergen labelling in restaurants.’
The inquest heard how Mr Carey – who had a dairy allergy – and staff were ‘misled by the description – of the meal on the menu.
Assistant coroner Briony Ballard said it was clear he had ‘not been made aware of the ingredients’.
She said the burger chain’s allergens training at the time might not have been effective for ‘less diligent staff’.
Ms Ballard is expected to make recommendations to avoid similar deaths in the future at a later date.
She said it was apparent that Mr Carey’s family were very mindful about his dietary requirements.
In a written conclusion, the coroner ruled: ‘The deceased died from a severe food-induced anaphylactic reaction from food eaten and ordered at a restaurant despite making staff aware of his allergies.’
The medical cause of death was given as severe food-induced anaphylaxis.
After the hearing at Southwark Coroner’s Court, Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson said in a statement: ‘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 believe we always did our best to meet our responsibilities but we know that this will be of no comfort to Owen’s family.
‘We have heard what the coroner said about the need to communicate about allergies and it is clear that the current rules and requirements are not enough and the industry needs to do more.
‘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.’