A British teen died from an allergic reaction to dairy in a buttermilk chicken breast that he ate on his 18th birthday, a coroner has ruled.
Owen Carey collapsed about an hour after he ate at Byron, a casual burger chain, in April 2017, and a coroner ruled Friday that he died from a “severe anaphylactic reaction,” the British Press Association and the Guardian reported.
Carey didn’t have the EpiPen he usually carried with him, but he informed restaurant staff about his dairy allergy, the coroner said.
He then ordered the grilled chicken, unaware that it was marinated with buttermilk.
“The menu was reassuring in that it made no reference to any marinade or potential allergenic ingredient in the food selected,” coroner Briony Ballard told Southwark coroners court Friday, per the Guardian.
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Clodagh Bradley, who represented the Carey family, said menus need to show allergy information clearly. However, Byron’s menu featured allergy information “at the very bottom, in a really very small font, in black print, on a royal blue background,” she told the BBC.
Byron was in compliance with regulations concerning allergy information and the text was “perfectly legible in my opinion,” said the restaurant’s technical manager, Aimee Leitner-Hopps. She also said that restaurant staff had been trained on how to handle allergies, per the BBC.
Chief executive Simon Wilkinson offered condolences to the family but also maintained that the appropriate procedures were followed.
“We believe that Byron always did its best to meet our responsibilities, but we know that this will be of no comfort to Owen’s family,” he said in a statement on Byron’s website following the coroner’s ruling.
Outside the courthouse Friday, Carey’s family called for new legislation that they say would better protect people with allergies.
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“We want restaurants to have to display clear allergen information on each individual dish on their menus,” the family said in a statement, according to the Press Association.
“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,” the family added.
Carey’s mother, Moira, remembered her son as someone with “a load of energy” and “always smiling,” she told reporters outside the courthouse, per the Guardian.
His father, Paul, said: “He was an excellent chap, a beautiful boy and a great mate.”
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