Recently, we received heartbreaking news about the sudden passing of 25-year-old dancer Órla Baxendale. Baxendale lost her life due to an allergic reaction after consuming a cookie that was purchased from the grocery chain Stew Leonard’s. The cookie, unfortunately, was not properly labeled as containing peanuts. As a result, Stew Leonard’s has issued a recall for its vanilla and chocolate Florentine cookies, as they contain undeclared peanuts and eggs.
Baxendale was known for being vigilant and cautious when it came to her health. In fact, her attorney, Marijo Adimey, shared that she even Googled “soy nut” to ensure that it wasn’t a nut she was consuming. Sadly, despite her care, she still fell victim to a mislabeled product. After going into anaphylactic shock, her friends administered her epinephrine (epi pen) and rushed her to the hospital. Tragically, it was too late to save her.
This incident has sent shockwaves through the community, prompting the grocery store to speak out. Stew Leonard Jr., shared his deepest condolences and admitted that their supplier neglected to inform them of a recipe change, which led to the mislabeling. He expressed his sadness, acknowledging the pain that Baxendale’s family is going through.
Cookie United, the wholesaler from whom Stew Leonard’s purchases their cookies, has disputed Leonard Jr.’s statement, claiming that they did notify Stew Leonard’s about the recipe change. However, it is important to note that Stew Leonard’s is responsible for rebranding and packaging the cookies under their own label, which also includes applying the incorrect label.
Authorities are currently investigating this tragic incident. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection and the Department of Public Health are working to ensure that such labeling errors do not happen again. Dr. Manisha Juthani, DPH Commissioner, emphasized the importance of correct labeling to protect individuals with food allergies.
Órla Baxendale was a talented dancer who had moved from East Lancashire, England, to pursue her dreams in New York. This devastating loss has left her family and the community shattered. Our hearts go out to them during this difficult time.
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