Teen Dies From Birthday Meal After Telling Staff of His Allergy During His Order

Owen Carey simply wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday with his girlfriend at a popular London eatery. Careful of what he chose to eat, he let the staff at Byron Burgers know he had a dairy allergy, and asked if the grilled chicken would be ok.

After feeling assured it would be safe to eat, Carey ordered the skinny grilled chicken burger and devoured roughly half of it before starting to feel nauseous. He began feeling worse after he left the restaurant, and he later collapsed.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died. It turned out the chicken had been marinated in buttermilk.

grilled chicken sandwich
The grilled chicken sandwich served to Owen Carey had been made with a buttermilk marinade, despite Carey asking if there were any dairy products in the sandwich. Getty

The dairy triggered an anaphylactic reaction that eventually led to his death, according to The Guardian.

"The deceased made serving staff aware of his allergies. The menu was reassuring in that it made no reference to any marinade or potential allergenic ingredient in the food selected," assistant coroner Briony Ballard said. "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."

Carey normally carried an EpiPen, which is an auto-injectable device that contains epinephrine, used for life-saving situations for someone experiencing anaphylaxis. He had forgotten it that day before his birthday ventures.

Despite that, his family has made it their mission to push legislators to make laws requiring restaurants to label ingredients, particularly any allergens.

Aimee Leitner-Hopps, the technical manager for Byron's, has the duty of making sure employees are trained in food safety, and she said allergy information was listed on the menu at the time, and that customers should ask for information, in which the team could then provide.

"If you have an allergy you should be asking for information and the team would be able to provide that information in the allergy guide," Leitner-Hopps said.

Clodagh Bradley, who represents Carey's family, said any allergy information was printed in small black letters on a blue background on the back of the menu, which made it difficult to read. Bradley added that the omission of the fact the breast was marinated in buttermilk made it seem to the customer that it was a just a plain, non-marinated piece of chicken.

Carey's family made a statement outside of a court last week, calling on lawmakers to pass "Owen's Law," which would call for more clearly-labeled allergen information.

"We want restaurants to have to display clear allergen information on each individual dish on their menus. The food industry should put the safety of their customers first," the family said.

"It is simply not good enough to have a policy which relies on verbal communication between the customer and their server, which often takes places 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 all too well costs lives. We hope that we can bring about change with 'Owen's law' for better allergen labelling in restaurants."

Teen Dies From Birthday Meal After Telling Staff of His Allergy During His Order | News