Vanilla Cookie Kills Young Woman

By Johnny Jan 25, 2024 #Allergy #Cookies

A professional dancer in New York died after she ate an incorrectly labeled holiday cookie containing peanuts sold at popular supermarket Stew Leonard’s, as the store and wholesaler point fingers at who is to blame.

Órla Baxendale, 25, went into anaphylactic shock resulting from a severe allergic reaction as she ate a Vanilla Florentine cookie on Jan. 11, Attorney Marijo Adimey released in a statement Wednesday.

Baxendale, a UK native, ate the treat at a social gathering in Connecticut, according to News 12.

“Órla’s passing stemmed from an unfortunate incident involving the consumption of a cookie manufactured by Cookies United and sold by Stew Leonard’s, which contained undisclosed peanuts,” Adimey wrote.

“This tragic oversight has led to the recall of the Vanilla Florentine Cookies from Stew Leonard’s stores in Danbury and Newington, CT, for the period of November 6 – December 31, 2023.”

The cookie packaging had not been labeled properly to show the product contained peanuts. Connecticut Department of Public Health

Marijo shared that an investigation into Baxendale’s death revealed “gross negligence and reckless conduct of the manufacturer and/or sellers” for not stating on the cookies’ packaging that the product contained peanuts.

“This failure in proper disclosure has led to this devastating yet preventable outcome,” the attorney wrote.

The Manchester native moved to New York City to train as a scholarship student at The Ailey School in 2018, according to the school’s website.

Baxendale had performed during New York Fashion Week and had been involved in dance productions at the Lincoln Center.

Stew Leonard’s explained that the Long Island bakery they buy the cookies from did not inform them of a change of ingredients in their vanilla Florentine Cookies.

“I’m here with our family and, I mean we’re just all devastated, very sad. I have four daughters, one of them is in her twenties. I can imagine how that family feels right now,” CEO Stew Leonard’s Jr. said in the released video, according to News 12.

Stew Leonard's claims they were not told of any ingredient changes to the cookie.
Stew Leonard’s claims they were not told of any ingredient changes to the cookie. News12 Bronx
Owner Stew Leonard in the released video statement following the dancer's tragic death.
Owner and CEO, Stew Leonard Jr., is seen in the released video statement following the dancer’s tragic death. News12 Bronx

The wholesaler, Cookies United, however, claimed they did share the change in ingredients with the regional supermarket chain months before Baxendale’s death.

“Stew Leonard’s claimed in an earlier press release that “the cookies contain peanuts, which was an ingredient not disclosed to Stew Leonard’s by the manufacturer,’” United Cookies wrote in a statement Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, considering the tragedy of these circumstances, we need to point out that Stew Leonard’s was notified by Cookies United in July of 2023 that this product now contains peanuts, and all products shipped to them have been labeled accordingly.”

Despite the supermarket’s claims, United Cookies says they informed the supermarket of the changes to the recipe back in July.
Despite the supermarket’s claims, United Cookies says they informed the supermarket of the changes to the recipe back in July. News12 Bronx

The wholesaler alleges that Stew Leonard’s changed the packaging to represent the store’s brand but failed to properly label the cookies as containing peanuts before they hit the shelves.

Stew Leonard’s said that the product was only sold at the Danbury and Newington locations.

The supermarket has since issued a recall for the seasonal product on Tuesday.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Food, Standards and Product Safety Division (DCP) shared that they are investigating the deadly mishap with officials in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, the Food and Drug Administration, and Stew Leonard’s.

“This is a heartbreaking tragedy that should never have happened,” said DCP Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli released in a statement on Tuesday, saying they will get to the bottom of how this “error happened and prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.”

“It’s completely tragic and should not be occurring,” Punita Ponda, Northwell Health’s associate division chief for allergy and immunology, told News 12.

“From the manufacturer’s point of view, this is something that if care was taken to enough levels to avoid this from being an exposure for the person, that’s the first level of prevention.”

Ponda stressed the importance of adequately checking labels for those with known food allergies.

“It’s like when you go out and you want to make sure you have your wallet and ID with you. It’s the same thing. If you’re going on and could be exposed to food in any situation, you should bring your EpiPen,” Ponda told the outlet.

Original article

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