Cookies United revealed that it had informed the grocery chain of ingredient changes in summer
The family of 25-year-old professional dancer Orla Baxendale, who tragically lost her life on January 11 after consuming recalled Florentine Cookies from Stew Leonard’s, asserts that her death was “100% preventable,” according to statements from their lawyer, Marijo Adimey, New York Post reported.
Describing Orla as a “young, vivacious, beautiful professional dancer”, Adimey emphasised the devastating and preventable nature of her death due to anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction.
The Long Island-based company, Cookies United, responsible for supplying Stew Leonard’s with the recalled cookies, revealed that it had informed the grocery chain of ingredient changes in the summer.
However, Stew Leonard initially claimed they were not notified about the alteration to include peanuts. This assertion was contradicted by Cookies United, asserting they did communicate this change in July.
Stew Leonard’s has since issued a product recall. Orla Baxendale consumed the cookie at a social gathering in Connecticut, and the ingredient list did not disclose the presence of peanuts.
In response to the tragedy, Stew Leonard expressed condolences in a video: “I’m here with our family, and, I mean, we’re just all devastated, unfortunate. I have four daughters, one of them is in her twenties. I can imagine how that family feels right now.”
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is investigating the incident, highlighting the failure of packaging at Stew Leonard’s to disclose the peanuts present, despite Cookies United’s packaging indicating their presence.
Dr Punita Ponda, Associate Division Chief for Allergy and Immunology at Northwell Health, emphasised the avoidable nature of food allergy deaths.
She stressed the importance of manufacturers taking adequate precautions. She urged families to review allergy action plans, recognise early symptoms, and carry necessary medication, such as an EpiPen, at all times.
As the family seeks accountability, the incident underscores the critical need for transparency and diligence in food product labelling to prevent such tragic events.