Owen Carey Inquest
Natasha’s parents, Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse attended Owen Carey’s inquest and have been supporting Owen’s family at this very difficult time. The Inquest resumed on the 12th and 13th September at the Southwark Coroners Court in London.
Owen Carey died age 18 years following a celebration meal with his family and girlfriend at Byron Burger in the O2 in Greenwich on the 22nd April 2017. He suffered from unstable asthma and multiple food allergies. The inquest was told that he was very careful when eating out and was forthcoming when notifying restaurant staff of his food allergies.
The Coroner delivered a narrative verdict.
Coroner Briony Ballard concluded that Owen died after eating chicken at Byron Burger restaurant and had been 'reassured by menu’. The deceased was not informed that there were allergens in the order even though he had notified staff of his dairy and wheat allergy.
He had notified staff of his allergy when he ordered a skinny chicken burger, described as ‘grilled chicken’. He was reassured by the wording on the menu which did not mention that it had been marinated in buttermilk or the presence of any other allergens. His allergy was not passed onto the kitchen and Owen was served the dish. Soon after, Owen suffered stomach pains before he collapsed into cardiac arrest. Within a short time of finishing his meal, Owen died.
Emma, Owen’s sister told the press, "It is simply not good enough to have a policy which relies on verbal communication between the customer and their server which often takes place 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 can cost lives."
The family's lawyer Thomas Jervis from Leigh Day who were also the lawyers for Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s inquest, said there was a "failure to act" despite Mr Carey telling staff about his allergy, and that current regulations were "not fit for purpose".
"It cannot be right that there is such room for human error on an issue that could be fatal," he said. "There are millions of people in the UK who suffer from food allergies, and it is only right that they are able to make fully informed decisions about the food that they eat."
During the inquest, Dr Robert Boyle, Consultant Paediatric Allergist at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, was the expert allergist at the inquest and has called for the setup of a national anaphylaxis register as a means to begin to better understand fatal food anaphylaxis deaths. It is imperative that such a register is created and Natasha’s Allergy Research Foundation fully supports the introduction of such a register. Following the inquest Byron Burger said,
“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.”
Owen's death yet again highlights the inadequacy of food information in this country.
Current allergen advice for food businesses
What the introduction of Natasha’s Law will mean
All food for sale is covered under the EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011, commonly known as EU FIC Regulation. This EU legislation has been implemented into UK law, via the Food Information Regulations 2014