A teenager had a fatal reaction after unwittingly eating buttermilk at burger chain Byron, an inquest has heard.
Owen Carey, who had a dairy allergy, was celebrating his 18th birthday when he collapsed on 22 April 2017.
Earlier, he had ordered skinny grilled chicken at the O2 Arena branch, but the menu contained “no mention” of a marinade, the inquest heard.
Technical manager Aimee Leitner-Hopps said a notice on the menu asked customers to advise staff of allergies.
She also told Southwark Coroner’s Court all waiting staff underwent allergy training.
The inquest heard Mr Carey started to experience symptoms after leaving the restaurant, before he collapsed outside the London Eye.
He died later at St Thomas’s Hospital in central London.
‘Very small font’
Clodagh Bradley QC, representing the Carey family, of Crowborough, Sussex, said regulations required allergy information in a restaurant to be clearly visible.
Information on the Byron menu was “at the very bottom, in a really very small font, in black print, on a royal blue background” making it difficult to read, she added.
Ms Leitner-Hopps said: “It’s perfectly legible in my opinion.”
She also said it complied with legal obligations.
When asked by assistant coroner Briony Ballard why it could not be more prominent, she replied: “The expectation is that a customer with an allergy should inform us.”
Ms Leitner-Hopps said there had been numerous local authority visits over the years to the restaurant but they had “never been told” the wording was not clear enough or was too small.
Ms Bradley QC also said: “The menu makes no mention at all of marinade. It would be very easy for a reader of the menu to think this was a plain grilled chicken breast.”
Ms Leitner-Hopps said: “If you have an allergy you should be asking for information and the team would have provided it.”
She said since Mr Carey’s death, and subsequent research showing one in 10 people aged 16 to 24 hide their allergies, staff now ask customers directly if they have any allergies or dietary requirements.
Dr Robert Boyle, consultant paediatric allergist at St Thomas’s, told the inquest there had been about 150 deaths like Mr Carey’s in the UK in the past 25 years.
He said: “The condition is so awful, so hideous, such a monstrous beast, that we’re struggling to make an impact on it.”
Dr Boyle added it wasn’t understood why food allergy reactions were “so fast, so catastrophic”, and he suggested the creation of “a proper national register where we pull in all this information and learn from it”.
The inquest continues.