A FATHER’S campaign to see a change in the law on food allergens has reached a major milestone.

Owen Carey, 18, died in 2017 of anaphylactic shock after eating a burger that had been marinaded in buttermilk.

His dad Paul Carey has been campaigning since for restaurants and cafes to display clearer information so that those with allergies can make safe choices.

Owen’s family wants to build on Natasha’s Law, which dealt with ingredients and allergy listings on pre-packaged foods. 

The introduction of Natasha’s Law was welcomed but left an uneven situation where people buying pre-packaged takeaway food now have more protection than those eating in restaurants.

Now, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has updated its policy to recommend that cafes and restaurants provide allergen information in writing as well as verbally – and the FSA wants to see this made law. It’s written to Food Minister Mark Spencer to hear his views on the matter.

The FSA is in agreement with the Carey family that a change in the law cost little, but bring immeasurable benefits for those who suffer allergies and anaphylaxis.

In the meantime, the FSA says it will be providing strengthened guidance to food businesses on how to provide written information “so that we can quickly start to make improvements that will be helpful for people with food hypersensitivities when they are eating out”.

Paul Carey with son Owen on his 18th birthday
Paul Carey p with son Owen on his 18th birthday (Submitted)

Paul, from Callington, recently learned that the Owen’s Law petition - calling for allergen information to be clearly printed on menus - had come in the top three finalists of the Parliamentary Petition Award 2024.

Paul travelled to London last week to receive an award at the Houses of Parliament. There, he was also able to meet Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle and passed him two of the Owen’s Law calling cards.

The postcards enable members of the public to give restaurants and cafes a score on how they are complying with the aims of Owen’s Law.

“It’s a way of educating restaurants and giving them some feedback,” Paul explained.

“I gave Sir Lindsay two cards and asked him to pass one on to Mark Spencer – he said that he would do.”

Paul Carey hopes that the minister – who has written in response to local MP Sheryll Murray’s support of the campaign to say he is considering the matter – will be persuaded to take action ahead of an election.

“It doesn’t need an Act of Parliament, it can be dealt with through delegated powers, so should be straightforward,” says Paul.

“Around 28% of the population suffer some kind of food intolerance.

“We’re asking people, wherever they are, to contact their local MP to ask them to write to Minister Mark Spencer in support of Owen’s Law and the Food Standard Agency’s recommendation. The more people that write in support, the more chance we have of succeeding.”

Readers who would like to obtain some of the Owen’s Law calling cards should make contact via the website at www.owens-law.co.uk