Frogwell Family Fight for Food Allergen Changes

It is hoped that the government can be persuaded to change the law. To do this Owen’s family want to build on Natasha’s Law, which came into effect on 1 October 2021 and deals with the ingredients and allergy listings on pre-packaged takeaway food. The campaign for Natasha’s Law showed that the UK’s allergen laws were flawed and outdated, and needed reform, but it left an uneven situation where people taking away pe-packaged food have more protection than those eating in restaurants.

Owen’s family want to persuade the industry, the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) and the government that to make such changes is of little cost, but immeasurable benefit to those whose lives are blighted by allergies and anaphylaxis. As well as a change in the law – through amendments to the Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) – Owen’s family also call for implementation of better training and the establishment of a database of anaphylaxis deaths.

The FIR already requires restaurants to make available information on the allergens in each of the dishes they offer, but the regulations currently allow them to do this ‘by many means’.  Whilst some restaurants (both large chains and smaller family run establishments) are already complying with what Owen’s family are calling for, in practice there is a wide range of performance and many restaurants do not yet even have the necessary information easily to hand or have adequately trained staff. 

The demands of the family for Owen’s Law can be summarised as follows. 

Changes in the law
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 be in the form of standardised symbols representing the 14 major allergens printed by each dish on the face of the menu.
  • A 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.

Restaurants to be obliged to initiate a discussion with customers about allergies on all occasions, so that customers do not have to ask.

  • All servers to positively ask each customer if they suffer from any allergies.
  • All servers have to read out the food order and any dietary requirements with the customer before submitting it to the kitchen.
  • 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
Better training for waiting staff, especially in fast food and high staff turnover environments

  • Thorough and certified allergy and first aid training (possibly by a registered charity) at least for the Duty Manager to whom all other more junior staff can refer.
  • 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.
  • Development of a smart phone app that assists with the database.
  • Development of an industry standard ‘Allergen ID Card’/bracelet/necklace, with a QR code, that identifies holders’ allergies so servers can know without doubt their allergy situation.

Research into allergies
Proper recording of, and a national register for, anaphylaxis deaths, as proposed by Professor Adam Fox, President of the British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology. The campaign also calls for further general research into the causes of allergies and possible cures.

The way forward
Having launched their campaign formally in April 2021 with the launch of a website and a number of high-profile media appearances, Owen’s family established a dialogue with the FSA, which has overall responsibility for, inter alia, overseeing the law in respect of allergen information in food. The Anaphylaxis Campaign, which the Carey family also support, have joined in the discussions. 

The FSA has engaged with Owen’s family in a meaningful way but have stated they need to approach the proposals in an evidence-led manner, and to assess the impact of any changes in the law to avoid any intended consequences. This is accepted. 

In the meantime, a survey conducted amongst its members by the Anaphylaxis Campaign showed overwhelming support for the principle element of the Owen’s Law Campaign, ie, stating the allergens on the face of menus. This may not be evidence of the quality the FSA needs, but is certainly is enough to embolden Owen’s family to keep pressing on with their campaign. 

Further information can be found at: or by emailing The family would welcome new subscribers to their newsletter and more signatures on their petition!

About the author
Paul Carey leads the Owen’s Law campaign, run by Owen’s family calling for the allergens in each dish to be stated in writing on the face of menus. Paul is an author and full-time company director working in the energy-from-waste sector, based in Frogwell, near Callingtonl.