Soaring Number Of Hospitalized Children, Allergens Must Be Listed On Menus

Any parent who has a child with food allergies knows how nerve-wracking it can be to eat out at a restaurant. When eating at home parents know exactly what they're serving their child and can ensure there is no allergens present, but when eating out they have to trust that the restaurant, serving and kitchen staff is aware of how the food is prepared and exactly what the ingredients are.

Owen Carey was celebrating his 18th birthday with friends and family members when he died after eating a chicken burger from a branch of Byron's restaurant in London's O2 Arena. Despite informing the staff that he had a dairy allergy, Carey was served a chicken breast that had been marinated in buttermilk, according to an inquest into his death heard in September.

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Yahoo! reports that just last week the coroner warned that future deaths could happen if restaurant menus weren't required to include allergen information. Assistant coroner Briony Ballard noted that immediate action needs to be taken when it comes to listing potential allergens on menus or "there is a risk that future deaths will occur."

The family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse knows all too well how important it is for foods to be properly labeled. Natasha was just 15 years old when she died after eating a baguette from Pret A Manger that contained sesame seeds despite not having the ingredient listed on the label. Her parents worked to get Natasha's Law passed that will require pre-packaged foods to carry a full listing of ingredients.

Data from the NHS shows a huge jump in hospital admissions for children experiencing anaphylactic shock between 2013/14 and 2018/19. The numbers rose 72% during that time from, jumping from 1015 admissions to 1746 during the years listed.

The Carey family is hoping to enact Owen's Law which would require menus to provide allergen information and also require service staff to ask diners if they have any allergies prior to taking his order.

Owen's father Paul Carey added that "The key element of Owen's Law is this matter of putting the allergens on the face of the menu and I don't know yet whether we can persuade Byron that it is an easy thing to do." He added "It may be inconvenient, but it's not difficult. It's not impossible to put symbols of some kind." Emma Kosher, Owen's sister said that the purpose of the law is to hopefully prevent this sort of tragedy from happening to another family. "We don't want anyone to go through what we've gone through," she told ITV News Meridian. "To lose someone so integral to your life is just the most painful thing and I don't want anyone to have to go through that again."

Byron has since made changes to their menu and ordering systems, allowing servers to only submit orders to the kitchen once they have confirmed that they have asked all customers about any allergies, and menus now contain a large allergy message.

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