Owen Carey: Allergy deaths register 'could save lives'

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Owen CareyImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Owen Carey was celebrating his 18th birthday when he died

A failure to draw together lessons from food allergy deaths is contributing to the number of fatalities, health officials have been warned.

A coroner investigating Owen Carey's death called for a national register of "severe food anaphylactic reactions".

The 18-year-old died after eating dairy in grilled chicken from Byron burger.

Assistant coroner Briony Ballard said the allergy death rate was, in part, due to a "failure to collect together any learning from these tragedies".

Despite faster ambulance response times, a greater awareness of allergies and greater distribution of epi-pens - used to treat severe and life threatening allergic reactions - the rate of food allergy deaths "remains static", Ms Ballard said.

In September, an inquest heard that Mr Carey, of Crowborough, Sussex, died on 22 April 2017 as he celebrated his 18th birthday with family and friends.

He told staff at Byron burger about his allergy but was not told the meal included buttermilk.

There had been about 150 deaths like Mr Carey's in the UK in the past 25 years, the inquest heard.

Image source, Family Handout
Image caption,
Natasha suffered a severe reaction after eating sesame in a baguette

In June, a new law was announced forcing food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged food, following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

The 15-year-old had a fatal allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger baguette in 2016.

Ms Ballard said she was concerned there is "no national register recording the circumstances of these deaths which could then be analysed and learnt from by allergy specialists".

Anaphylaxis Campaign said it "whole heartedly supports" calls for a national register, adding: "We believe lessons can and must be learnt from tragic deaths related to anaphylaxis."

The assistant coroner raised her concerns in a "report to prevent future deaths," sent to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

She said they had the power to take action that would save lives.

The DHSC, Defra and the FSA declined to comment while Parliament is dissolved for the general election.

The report was also sent to Byron, which previously said it would support the Carey family's "courageous efforts to introduce an Owen's Law and improve allergy awareness and standards in restaurants".

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