New York Woman Dies After Eating Mislabeled Cookie

She had a severe allergic reaction to a mislabeled cookie that contained peanuts.

A Stew Leonard's store in Newington, Conn., Jan. 25, 2024.
A Stew Leonard's store in Newington, Conn., Jan. 25, 2024.
AP Photo/Stephen Dunn

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A 25-year-old professional dancer from England who moved to New York City to pursue her career has died after eating a mislabeled cookie containing peanuts, part of a batch that has since been recalled.

The grocery retailer Stew Leonard's announced Tuesday that Vanilla Florentine Cookies sold in its stores in Danbury and Newington in Connecticut from Nov. 6 to Dec. 31 were being recalled in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration. The company said about 500 packages of the holiday cookies were sold.

The person who died was identified as Órla Baxendale, a law firm representing her interests said Thursday.

"Her passion for dance extended well beyond a single discipline as she was an exquisite ballet, contemporary, and Irish step dancer," read an online obituary for Baxendale, who was born in East Lancashire.

She died Jan. 11 after suffering anaphylactic shock resulting from a severe allergic reaction, according to a post on the website for Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf.

The cookies contained peanuts as an unlisted ingredient and Baxendale ate them at a social gathering in Connecticut, state health and consumer protection officials said. On Thursday, authorities issued another alert saying the same cookies also contained eggs, which also were not listed on the label and can cause allergic reactions for some.

The cookies were produced by the Long Island-based wholesaler Cookies United and labeled with the Stew Leonard's brand name, according to state officials.

Stew Leonard Jr., the retailer's president and CEO, said in a video posted Wednesday that the supplier went from soy nuts to peanuts in the recipe without notifying their chief safety officer.

Cookies United said in a release that they notified Stew Leonard's last July that the product contained peanuts and that all products shipped to the retailer had been labeled accordingly. Cookies United said the incorrect label was created by Stew Leonard's.

Peanuts and eggs are among nine major food allergens identified in federal law that requires such ingredients to be listed on food packaging.

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