Mislabeled Vanilla Florentine Cookies Led To A Dancer's Death

Florentine cookies
Florentine cookies - Drong / Getty Images

Today's world is more aware of allergies than ever before, and nut allergies are chief among these. Many schools are peanut-free, and those that aren't often have designated eating spaces for those with allergies. Unfortunately, this sometimes isn't enough — especially when packages containing nuts don't list them as an ingredient at all.

On January 11, Órla Baxendale, a 25-year-old dancer from the U.K. who was touring in Connecticut, ate a Florentine cookie purchased from a Stew Leonard's store, as reported by ABC7. According to family attorney Marijo Adimey, after she took a bite and began having a reaction, her friends used her EpiPen and took her to the hospital, but her allergy was too severe. The cookies' package failed to indicate the presence of nuts. "With one simple sticker on a plastic package, their daughter would be alive," Adimey said.

According to the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), the recalled cookies have a best-by date of January 5, 2024, and were sold in Danbury and Newington from November 6 to December 31, 2023. The cookies were produced by Cookies United and re-labeled under the Stew Leonard's brand name. Anyone who has the cookies can return them for a full refund or dispose of them immediately and seek medical attention if they have a nut allergy.

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Cookie Company And Store Point Fingers

Box of Florentine cookies
Box of Florentine cookies - Moch Akbar Ramadhan Al Faqih / Getty Images

DCP has announced that it's working with public health officials to determine the cause of the mislabeling, but the recall has led to a back-and-forth between Stew Leonard's and Cookies United over who is to blame. In a press release, Cookies United claimed Stew Leonard's applied the incorrect label to the product, and that it had emailed Stew Leonard's in July 2023 to alert the company that the cookies now contained peanuts.

Stew Leonard's, on the other hand, says the blame lies with Cookies United. "Our chief safety officer here at Stew Leonard's was never notified ... we didn't change the label and sold about 500 packages of these cookies over the holiday," Stew Leonard's said in a video statement on its website. Shortly after the recall was listed for the cookies containing undeclared peanuts, a second recall was issued for the same cookies containing eggs, which also failed to appear on the label, per Connecticut's Department of Public Health (DPH).

Baxendale's family already has a lawyer on retainer, and both the DCP and DPH are launching an investigation, so the truth about who is responsible for the mislabeling will likely be revealed soon. "We will continue to work with all our partners including restaurants and retailers — to provide education on the dangers of food allergens so that best — practices are being [followed] for the safety of the residents of Connecticut," DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani told CBS News.

Read the original article on Mashed.