WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- In 2017, Owen Carey died from a severe allergic reaction during his 18th birthday.
- On Friday, the coroner stated that though the restaurant staff was made aware of his severe dairy allergy, his burger was coated in buttermilk.
- Carey’s family is using the findings to push for an improvement of U.K. food policy and labeling of food items in restaurants.
Owen Carey died due to anaphylactic shock while he was celebrating his 18th birthday back in 2017. On Friday, in a statement read aloud in court, Coroner Briony Ballard said that the restaurant employees had told the teen that his dinner was dairy-free.
The birthday dinner was held at a UK-based burger chain called Byron. Carey warned staff about having a severe dairy allergy when he ordered a skinny grilled chicken burger. They gave him his assurances that the meal was safe for him to eat.
However, the 18-year-old collapsed in his girlfriend’s arms not long after dinner. Though he was rushed to the hospital, he died in less than an hour. Carey normally carried an EpiPen with him but had forgotten to take it along that day.
It turns out that the burger Carey ordered was coated in buttermilk. The coroner’s statement said that serving staff were “aware of his allergies” and that the menu didn’t mention or make any reference to a “potential allergenic ingredient in the food selected.”
Paul Carey, Owen’s father, also told the BBC that his son was well aware “exactly what he couldn’t eat” because it was drilled into him at a young age. Owen’s family is using the findings to push for a change in U.K. food policy, specifically, improving allergen-labeling guidelines which should post warnings next to all potential harmful foods.
Emma Kocher, Carey’s sister, said that Owen’s death shouldn’t have happened. “It is not enough to have a policy which relies on verbal communication between the customer and their servant which often takes place in a busy, noisy restaurant.”