Owen's Law: To transform restaurant food safety
Owen’s Law is a campaign that requires restaurants to put all information about allergens in their food on the face of their main menu. This is to ensure customers have ‘full visibility’ on what they order, and this has come to light from an incident in 2017. Owen Carey suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction to a meal that he was assured was safe for him to eat.
Owen Carey, a teenager with severe allergies, celebrated his 18th birthday in London in 2017. Despite informing the server about his allergies, he ordered a grilled chicken burger from a Byron Burger restaurant where he was assured it was safe to eat but was unknowingly marinated in buttermilk.
Later, Owen suffered a massive anaphylactic reaction and couldn't be resuscitated by paramedics at St Thomas' Hospital. It was concluded that his chances of survival were limited, regardless of whether he had an EpiPen with him.
Following the incident, Owen's family is advocating for changes in UK restaurant laws regarding allergy information display. They aim to expand on Natasha's Law, addressing the flaws in allergen laws for restaurant dining.
The family seeks to convince the industry, the Foods Standards Agency, and the Government that implementing these changes is low-cost but provides immense benefits to those affected by allergies and anaphylaxis.
Throughout his life, Owen faced a range of allergies, from food and pollen to cleaning products and animal hair, with some causing minor discomfort, while others were severe, including a painful eye ulcer.
Owen's food allergies became apparent during his introduction to solid food at around 6 months old. He experienced hives after trying bread and vomited when consuming milk and blackcurrant juice.
Further testing revealed that Owen had a wide range of food allergies, including cow's milk, goat's milk, wheat, rye, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, yeast, sesame, soya, all nuts, egg, salmon, cod, pork, avocado, kiwi, ginger, blackcurrant, tomato, onion, garlic, chocolate, cocoa, tapioca, monosodium glutamate, artificial sweetener, and tea.
Thankfully, once his diet was altered to exclude any of the above, Owen’s stomach pain disappeared and his health improved. Through the various medical tests and the care of his family and friends, Owen never came into contact with his main food allergens. He, therefore, had never suffered an anaphylactic reaction before the day he died.
On May 15, 2023, MPs debated the issue in Parliament following a petition with 13,000 signatures, including support from UK restaurants. The current law requires allergens to be declared verbally or in a separate allergy menu by restaurants. Owen's family wants allergen information included on the regular menu.
The debate won't guarantee action but will indicate the government's stance on the issue.
Following the tragedy, Byron Burger made menu and allergen procedure changes. For it to become law, the petition must transform into a bill, pass through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and receive royal assent.
How allergen checker supports restaurants
Allergen Checker is a user-friendly software that helps food & drink establishments become allergy compliant. By inputting menu dishes into the software and generating a QR code, customers can easily access all allergen information. This streamlines the dining experience for both customers and staff, eliminating the need for verbal explanations and guesswork.
Allergen Checker promotes transparency and enables informed choices, reducing the risk of accidental exposure to allergens. With a simple scan, customers can access detailed allergen information, while waiters and waitresses save time and minimise errors. This software ensures a smooth dining experience, prioritising safety and compliance with allergy regulations.
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