Byron burger death: Teen killed by allergic reaction was misled by menu, inquest finds

Owen Carey had warned staff he was at risk from dairy as ordered the meal to celebrate his 18th birthday

Jane Dalton
Friday 13 September 2019 18:35
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Owen Carey's mother Moira, sister Emma Kocher and father Paul Carey, outside Southwark Coroner's Court following the ruling that he was misled
Owen Carey's mother Moira, sister Emma Kocher and father Paul Carey, outside Southwark Coroner's Court following the ruling that he was misled

A teenager who died from a reaction to dairy after eating a burger at a Byron restaurant was misled into believing there were no allergens in it, a coroner has ruled.

Owen Carey, who was having the meal to celebrate his 18th birthday, warned staff of his allergy.

But he collapsed within an hour of suffering a reaction after eating grilled chicken coated in buttermilk at the restaurant at the O2 Arena in London in 2017.

The inquest heard that the dairy ingredient was not listed on the chain’s “reassuring” menu.

Mr Carey’s family, who called him their “shining light”, demanded a change in the law on allergen labelling in restaurants.

In a written conclusion, assistant coroner Briony Ballard 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 of Mr Carey, of Crowborough, East Sussex, was given as severe food-induced anaphylaxis.

The coroner wrote: “The menu was reassuring in that it made no reference to any marinade or potential allergenic ingredient in the food selected.

“The deceased was not informed that there were allergens in the order.

“The food served to and consumed by the deceased contained dairy, which caused the deceased to suffer a severe anaphylactic reaction from which he died.”

Simon Wilkinson, Byron’s chief executive, 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.

The current rules and requirements are not enough, and the industry needs to do more

Simon Wilkinson

“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.

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“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.”

Earlier this month new laws requiring food businesses to include full ingredient labelling on pre-packaged foods, following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, were passed, to take effect from 2021.

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