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Teenager who died after eating Byron burger did not know it contained buttermilk, inquest hears

12 September 2019 by
Teenager who died after eating Byron burger did not know it contained buttermilk, inquest hears

A teenager who died after eating at a Byron burger restaurant while celebrating his 18th birthday did not know his chicken burger had been coated in buttermilk, an inquest has heard.

Owen Carey, who had a dairy allergy, suffered a fatal reaction on 22 April 2017 after consuming grilled chicken coated in buttermilk at the group's restaurant in the O2 Arena, in Greenwich, London.

An inquest at Southwark Coroner's Court today heard that Carey, of Crowborough, East Sussex, did not realise the chicken contained the ingredient, which had not been listed on the menu.

Barrister Clodagh Bradley, who is representing Carey's family, argued the omission of buttermilk from Byron's menu at the time could make a customer "believe" it was a plain chicken breast.

Aimee Leitner-Hopps, Byron's technical manager who is responsible for ensuring teams are fully trained in food safety, said there were many component ingredients in dishes that were not elaborated on in the menu.

She said: "If you have an allergy you should be asking for information and the team would be able to provide that information in the allergy guide."

Leitner-Hopps said staff are now trained to ask customers directly if they have any allergies or dietary requirements. At the time of Mr Carey's death team members received online allergen training, along with on-site training.

The inquest had heard Carey, who suffered from asthma and various other food allergies, had collapsed less than an hour after first experiencing an allergic reaction to his meal and was taken to hospital where he died.

Giving evidence, allergy specialist Dr Robert Boyle said the likely cause of death was an anaphylactic reaction to his food, specifically cow's milk.

Dr Boyle, of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, called for better understanding of fatal food anaphylaxis, which he said has been responsible for around 150 deaths in the UK over the past 25 to 30 years.

He said: "Fatal food anaphylaxis is uncommon and it is very fast. Typically people die 30 to 40 minutes after they have eaten the food.

"It is poorly understood. We don't fully understand why it happens so fast and why it typically affects adolescents and young adults."

The inquest, being heard by Coroner Briony Ballard, will conclude tomorrow (Friday).

Photo by Miss Nicholson/Flickr

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