FSA to discuss Owen’s Law proposals

Posted: 4 December 2023 | | No comments yet

The Food Standards Agency will be discussing the proposals made in Owen’s Law at its next Board meeting in December.

board meeting

On 13 December, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is set to discuss the proposals made in a potential “Owen’s Law” at its Board meeting.

In 2017 Owen Carey suffered a fatal reaction after eating a grilled chicken burger at a Byron Burger restaurant in London. Carey lived with “multiple food allergies all his life” including an allergy to dairy, and “was well used to ordering meals to fit his restricted diet when in restaurants”, according to the Owen’s Law website.

When ordering the restaurant, despite “having explained his allergies to the server and having no other information on the menu to the contrary, he was assured would be ‘plain grilled’ and therefore safe for him to eat”, however the chicken burger had been marinated in buttermilk, something that Carey was “highly allergic” to. Later that day Carey suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction.

Following his death, Owen’s family started a campaign to see a change in the law that “compels restaurants to state the allergens in their dishes, specifically on the face of the main menu”, something that Carey’s family define as a “simple change [that] would eliminate the risk that exists at the point of order when a waiter does not fully understand, or is not trained enough to process, or simply ignores the customer’s concerns about allergens in each dish”.

According to the BBC, Paul Carey, the father of Owen, is now waiting with “baited breath” to receive news regarding the food policy decision.

Would Owen’s Law save lives?

“We know the board have said they support Owen’s Law. It has been a question of when, rather than if, so I am hoping that will say they are going to take this forward,” Paul Carey told the BBC.

Owen’s family launched the Owen’s Law campaign and after receiving thousands of signatures, the topic was debated in UK parliament on 15 May 2023.

In response to the discussion, the UK Government stated: “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.

“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,” the UK Government continued in a statement.

In the December Board meeting, the FSA is set to discuss various topics including food hypersensitivity, the Border Target Operating Model and an update on the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU).

The FSA’s website has noted that, as part of the discussion surrounding food hypersensitivity, the regulator will be providing an update on progress and options for improving the provision of allergy information.

Speaking on the matter, Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy at the FSA, said: “The FSA strives to make sure accurate and trusted allergen information is available to support the estimated over two million people who are living with a food allergy, intolerance or coeliac disease in the UK, and it is a core part of our mission that food is safe.

“It remains our fundamental principle to ensure that consumers have clear and accurate allergen information to help manage their food hypersensitivity, and that food businesses and local authorities have the right support to minimise risk.”

Sudworth went on to explain: “Building on extensive engagement with consumers, food businesses and local authorities, as well as considering a range of research that has been carried out, we are recommending to the Board that businesses should provide both written and verbal allergen information to consumers.

“The paper sets out a range of options for how to deliver this approach which will be discussed by our Board on 13th December.”

New Food  will keep its readers updated with any developments.

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