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​Revitalising Restaurant Food Safety: The Mission of Owen's Law

​Revitalising Restaurant Food Safety: The Mission of Owen's Law

Posted by Emily on 30th Nov 2023

Owen's Law represents a pivotal movement in food safety, championing restaurants' need to display allergen information on their primary menus prominently. The catalyst for this movement was the heartbreaking story of Owen Carey, who tragically passed away following a severe allergic reaction to a meal that he was mistakenly told was safe for him.

photo of Owen Carey

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The Crusade for Change: Owen's Campaign

In 2017, Owen Carey, a teenager with severe allergies, marked his 18th birthday in London. Despite his caution and clear communication about his allergies, he tragically consumed a grilled chicken burger from Byron Burger. Unbeknownst to him, the burger was marinated in buttermilk - a fatal detail. Owen's subsequent severe anaphylactic reaction was irreversible, even with medical intervention at St Thomas' Hospital.

In the wake of this tragedy, Owen's family has been tirelessly advocating for legislative reforms in the UK. Their goal is to enhance existing allergen laws in restaurant settings, building upon the foundations of Natasha's Law. They are dedicated to convincing the food industry, the Food Standards Agency, and the government about these changes' vital importance and feasibility, especially for those vulnerable to allergies and anaphylaxis.

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The Vision of Owen's Law Campaign

Changes Proposed

Owen’s Law – four simple asks

Changes in the Law

  1. Restaurants to put more appropriate and accurate information about the allergens in their food on the face of the main menu and in a detailed allergy matrix, so that customers have full visibility on what they are ordering. This should bein the form of standardised symbols representing the fourteen major allergens to be printed by each dish on the face of the menu, and breakdown of each dish with the full ingredient list of each component to be listed in the allergy matrix, with it being an offence if they fail to do so

Changes in the Regulations

  1. Restaurants to be obliged to initiate a discussion with customers about allergies on all occasions, so that customers do not have to ask
  2. All servers to positively ask each customer if they suffer from any allergies
  3. All servers have to read out the food order and any dietary requirements with the customer before submitting it to the kitchen
  4. Duty Managers to be obliged to directly supervise this process where allergies are present, with it being an offence if they fail to do so

Changes in Guidance and Industry Practice

  1. Better training for waiting staff, especially in fast food and high staff turnover environments
  2. Thorough and certified allergy and first aid training (by a registered charity?) at least for the Duty Manager to whom all other more junior staff can refer
  3. A simple computer food database that large chains could provide in addition to the allergy matrix; this would speed up customers with allergies finding out what meals they could eat
  4. Development of a smart phone app that assists with the database
  5. Development of an industry standard “Allergen ID Card”/bracelet/necklace, with a QR code, that identifies the holders’ allergies so servers can know without doubt their allergy situation

Research into Allergies

  1. Proper recording of, and a national register for, anaphylaxis deaths*
  2. Further general research into the causes of allergies and possible cures

*As proposed by Professor Adam Fox, President of the British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology

To learn more about Owen's Law and support this crucial legislation, visit

We invite you to share your thoughts and join the conversation below. Your input can help drive change and make dining a safer experience for everyone.