UK – The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has thrown its weight behind the ‘Owen’s Law’ campaign, advocating for the mandatory inclusion of written allergen information on restaurant menus in the non-prepacked sector.

Following the December Board meeting, the FSA has expressed its belief that written allergen information should be a legal requirement, not just guidance, and plans to discuss this view with Ministers.

The ‘Owen’s Law’ campaign originated from a tragic incident involving Owen Carey, who suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction after consuming a grilled chicken burger at a Byron Burger restaurant in London in 2017.

Despite having communicated his allergies to the server and receiving assurances, the chicken burger was marinated in buttermilk, triggering a severe allergic reaction.

The FSA, acknowledging the importance of the campaign, intends to make it compulsory for restaurants and coffee shops to display allergy information on menus.

This move aligns with the campaign’s objective to mandate restaurants to specify allergens on the main menu itself.

The FSA will also work on robust guidance for food businesses to enhance compliance and facilitate individuals with food allergies, intolerances, and coeliac disease in protecting themselves when dining out.

The FSA Board emphasizes the expectation for a verbal conversation between customers and food business staff to provide an additional layer of protection for consumers. This complements the overarching aim of ensuring transparency and safety in food establishments.

Professor Susan Jebb, Chair of the FSA, underscored the commitment to improving the lives of the two million people with food allergies, intolerance, or coeliac disease.

The Board believes that making written information a legal requirement, rather than mere guidance, will maximize compliance.

Professor Jebb plans to engage with Ministers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as counterparts in Food Standards Scotland, to discuss the Board’s position.

Expressing gratitude to the Carey family for their advocacy and efforts, she acknowledged the importance of highlighting the issue. The FSA’s proactive stance aims to bring about legislative changes to enhance food safety and empower individuals with food hypersensitivities.

Paul Carey, Owen’s father, welcomed the FSA’s decision and looks forward to the government’s acceptance of the recommendation.

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