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Petition 'Owen's Law' - Change the law around allergy labelling in UK restaurants

1.Restaurants to put all information about allergens in their food on the face of the main menu so customers have full visibility on what they're ordering.
2.Servers must initiate a discussion with customers about allergies on all occasions.
3.National register for anaphylaxis deaths

More details

Owen Carey suffered multiple allergies all his life & was used to ordering meals for his restricted diet. On 22/4/17 he ordered a chicken burger at a restaurant, explained his allergies to the server & with no other info on the menu, was assured it was safe. However, the chicken was marinated in buttermilk, to which he was very allergic. He instantly knew something was wrong & 45 minutes later he collapsed & died having suffered a massive anaphylactic reaction. We aim to prevent future deaths.

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Government responded

This response was given on 14 July 2021

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Owen Carey, and to all those who have lost loved ones as a result of food allergies.

It is essential that all consumers can buy their food with confidence. The Government continues to work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to understand the steps that can be taken so ensure that future such tragedies are prevented.

The FSA recently met with the Carey family to discuss their proposals for Owen’s Law. The FSA has committed to working with government departments, including the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), to carefully consider evidence on how to improve the provision of information to people with food hypersensitivity.

Labelling and signage has an important role to play in providing consumers with accurate information. It is also important to ensure that hypersensitive consumer are able to communicate with food businesses when they are ordering their food. The allergy management culture within a business is a critical factor in ensuring hypersensitive consumers are adequately safeguarded when making their food choices.

All food businesses are under a legal obligation to provide information on the presence of the 14 major allergens in food. This information can be presented in different ways depending on how the food is packaged. In addition, new labelling rules for ‘prepacked for direct sale’ (PPDS) food are being implemented across the UK from 1 October 2021 and require full ingredients listing, with the 14 major allergens emphasised. This change means more types of food will now be labelled with allergen information, in particular ‘grab and go’ food.

Any new legislation will need to be carefully considered, taking into account what consumers would find helpful, the requirements for businesses and local authorities, as well as the potential for unintended consequences. The FSA has developed a dedicated programme of work on food hypersensitivity and has a strong track record of funding research in this area. The FSA is considering what other evidence it could gather and assess in relation to the Owen’s Law proposals as this is an essential part of the process for evaluating proposed legislative change.

On the proposal to establish a national register for anaphylactic deaths, DHSC notes the campaign proposal for a fatalities register and concurs that it is essential we learn from recent tragedies. The FSA also recognises the need for improved access to any source of information about fatalities where a food-related allergy is suspected. DHSC wishes to underline its emphatic support of the FSA’s strategy on food hypersensitivity; and in conjunction with the FSA’s ongoing work to collect more information on allergic reactions, DHSC is working to support the FSA to increase information prevalence regarding such fatalities.

Furthermore, DHSC and FSA officials are together considering existing data available from across the medical estate on food-related anaphylaxis cases, and how this might be analysed and used to prevent future incidents and deaths. The intention is to understand what more each Department could do in this area.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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