Bridgeport, Connecticut – The family of Órla Baxendale, a 25-year-old dancer, is devastated after she suffered a severe nut allergy reaction and died of anaphylactic shock. The incident occurred on January 11th when Baxendale consumed cookies that did not list peanuts as an ingredient on the label. The cookies in question were sold by Stew Leonard’s, a local grocery retailer, who subsequently issued a recall in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to a statement issued by Baxendale’s family attorneys, she had moved to New York from East Lancashire, England, to pursue her dance career. The family remembers her as a radiant and brave soul who left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who knew her. They are now mourning the unimaginable loss.
Stew Leonard’s has recalled 500 packs of their Vanilla Florentine cookies, which were sold at their Connecticut stores in Danbury and Newington from November 6th to December 31st, 2023. The recalled cookies had a best by date of January 5th, 2024. The grocery retailer advises customers with nut allergies to return the product for a full refund, as stated in the recall notice.
Baxendale’s attorney, Marijo C. Adime, revealed that the dancer had an EpiPen but her allergy was too severe for it to be effective. Despite being vigilant in checking packaging ingredients and carrying the life-saving device, Baxendale experienced a severe allergic reaction that could not be mitigated in time. The attorney emphasized that Baxendale’s condition was carefully managed, and she surrounded herself with people who knew how to administer an EpiPen.
Stew Leonard’s expressed their condolences in a video statement issued by Stew Leonard Jr., who admitted feeling devastated by the tragic incident. Leonard Jr. pointed out that the cookies were manufactured by Cookies United, a wholesaler based in Islip, New York, and repackaged by Stew Leonard’s. He claimed that the supplier changed the recipe without notifying their chief safety officer.
However, Cookies United contradicted Leonard Jr.’s statement, asserting that Stew Leonard’s was informed in July 2023 that the cookies now contained peanuts and were labeled accordingly. The company expressed compliance with all applicable regulations and extended their deepest sympathies to Baxendale’s family.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) are currently investigating the incident to determine how the labeling error occurred and prevent similar tragedies in the future. DCP Food Commissioner Bryan Cafferelli expressed his condolences to the affected family and emphasized the importance of correct food labeling to protect individuals with allergies.
DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani underscored the significance of food allergy awareness and collaboration with restaurants and retailers to ensure the safety of residents. She vowed to work with d