Aspiring World-Class Dancer Tragically Dead at 25, Connection to Popular Cookies Shocks Public

Aspiring World-Class Dancer Tragically Dead at 25, Connection to Popular Cookies Shocks Public

An aspiring dancer who tragically died after innocently eating a snack she bought at a grocery store is bringing renewed focus on the importance of packaging labels.

Órla Baxendale, a 25-year-old dancer living in New York, died Jan. 11 of anaphylactic shock after eating a cookie that was not properly labeled to tell customers that it contained peanuts, according to WNBC-TV.

Baxendale, born in the U.K., had a severe allergic reaction to the snack manufactured by Cookies United and sold by the supermarket chain Stew Leonard’s, according to the deceased woman’s representative.

The snacks were on sale from Nov. 6 to Dec. 31 with a best-by date of Jan. 5.

“Órla’s family, devastated by this unimaginable loss, wishes to express their gratitude for the outpouring of support and tributes from around the world.” a statement by her family’s lawyers added. “She was a radiant and brave soul who pursued her dreams relentlessly, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who knew her.

“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the family, friends, and the global dance community mourning the loss of this extraordinary individual,” Baxendale’s representative added.

The Connecticut-based store chain issued a recall for the florentine cookies, which were made under license by the Stew Leonard’s brand in Danbury and Newington.

Stew Leonard’s said the bakery that made the snack had included peanuts as an ingredient but did not disclose the inclusion of the nut on its packaging.

The store also said it was never told of the problem ingredient, and was completely in the dark.

However, a lawyer for Cookies United said emails were sent to 11 Stew Leonard’s employees, advising that the cookies now contained peanuts.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection has also reportedly discovered that the cookies also have eggs in them, which was also not included in the list of ingredients.

“People with an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts or eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products,” a recall notice stated.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Manhattan, where Baxendale had studied, confirmed that the young dancer was a member of the school.

“The Ailey School is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of alumna Órla Baxendale. Órla was born and raised in Manchester U.K. and moved to New York in 2018 to join the Ailey family as a scholarship student,” the school said in a statement.

“Since then, she had become an integral part of the New York dance world, pursuing her passion, shining her bright light, and doing what she loved most. She danced with numerous companies and choreographers, most recently as a member of MOMIX.

“Her loss will be profoundly felt by her friends, colleagues, and all who knew her. We will remember her for her joyful spirit and boundless talent. Our thoughts are with her family at this devastating time.”

Stew Leonard’s added that about 500 packages of the cookies had been sold before the recall and has asked customers to return the packages to their local outlet.

Baxendale was just preparing to perform in the title role of a production of “Alice in Wonderland,” the BBC reported.

Friends and family said that Baxendale was always very careful about her allergy and carried an EpiPen. Unfortunately, the device did not save her life, even though it was used.

The woman’s attorney said that a “preliminary investigation has revealed that Órla’s death occurred due to the gross negligence and reckless conduct of the manufacturer and/or sellers.”

No lawsuit has been filed, but the incident shows how important proper labeling for foodstuffs can be for those who have life-threatening allergies. The neglected labeling resulted in a death, but more could have died.

These situations need to be headed off with proper labeling to prevent further tragedies like this.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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