Boy Dies After Restaurant Ignores Allergen Warning

It used to be that you could bring cookies to class with a resounding cheer, but that has all changed.

Now, instead of “Hooray” you will hear “Do they have peanuts in them?”, or “Are they gluten-free?”

It’s not because children have become more snobby, but because there is a growing concern for food allergies. And one young man who asked all the right questions still suffered the most extreme consequences. 

People reports:

Owen Carey died from anaphylactic shock two years ago after eating a birthday meal at British burger chain Byron, even though he had told staff about his dairy allergy.”

Those with extreme allergies are good at reading labels, avoiding places ripe with the allergen, and double checking with servers that their order doesn’t contain any threatening ingredients. 

But even when you do everything right there is always the danger of encountering the lethal food when outside of your home. 

Carey was only a teenager when his life was taken too quickly. He was celebrating his 18th birthday at his favorite burger joint with someone he cared about before the incident unfolded. 

How does a teenager who has been on top of his allergies for 18 years, and knows the severity of the reaction eat food that is laden with it?

The answer is that he was lied to!

Whether it was negligence or ignorance, the staff at the restaurant led him to believe that his meal was safe after he asked information about a meal that did not list any allergens on the menu, according to the UK’s Press Association. 

Not unlike many other individuals in the United States, Carey had a severe allergy to dairy. 

He ordered a grilled chicken burger, which seemed like a safe choice after reading the ingredients, speaking to the wait staff, and not seeing any allergen warnings. 

But it was far from safe!

Unbeknownst to Carey, the burger had been marinated in a buttermilk before being dressed with fixings that hid any evidence of the fatal ingredient. 

After the meal, Carey and his girlfriend were walking to the London Aquarium when he dropped into the arms of his girlfriend on the sidewalk. 

Paramedics rushed to the scene, performing life saving measures on the way to St. Thomas Hospital, but it was too late. He died 45 minutes later, reports the Guardian.

Carey’s death is tragic, and assistant coroner Briony Ballard agrees before addressing Southwark Coroner’s Court. CNN reports:

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.”

If you do have an allergy that causes anaphylaxis don’t be afraid to triple check the order, even speaking with a manager about the importance of watching that the meal is prepared without the allergen. 

Ballard added:

 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 from which he died.”

Dairy is in so many foods that you would not expect it to be in, like grilled chicken in Carey’s case.

Eating out or consuming heavily processed food carries an inherent risk of contamination of an allergen, even if it doesn’t explicitly list it in the ingredients.

According to BBC, Paul Carey, Owen’s father, had “drilled” into him “from a very early age” what he could and couldn’t eat. 

That is why “the investigation and verdict [was] validating for Carey’s family, who knew their son would have taken every precaution while eating out,” reports People. 

It seems that everyone is allergic to something these days. And you aren’t imagining things!

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that food allergies in children has gone up by at least 50% between 1997 and 2011.

Peanut and tree nut allergies are the worst with the prevalence of a reaction tripling in US children between 1997 and 2008. 

The family of the deceased teenage boy is looking to get legislation passed that would require more stringent allergen labeling on all restaurant menus so that no other family has to suffer.

If you or your child does not have an allergy it may seem silly to you to make such specialized food for school functions or social engagements.

However, we can assure you it is not silly for those who live through the horror of watching their child struggle to breathe or break out in hives every time they eat something with a specific ingredient.

Be cautious about hidden ingredients and considerate when you bring food in a public setting. 

A little extra thought can mean a long, happy life for a caring individual with those who love them. 

Please let us know in the comments section if you have had an incident where an ingredient wasn’t listed and it caused an allergic reaction. 

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