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New York dancer dies after eating mislabeled cookies that contained peanuts

Stew Leonard's store in Newington, Conn., is shown Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. Mislabeled cookies containing peanuts that were sold at Stew Leonard’s grocery stores in Connecticut were recalled this week after the death of a woman from New York City. The company announced Tuesday, Jan. 23, that Vanilla Florentine Cookies sold in its stores in Danbury and Newington from Nov. 6 to Dec. 31 were being recalled in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A New York City woman died after eating a mislabeled cookie containing peanuts, part of a batch that has since been recalled.

Stew Leonard’s announced Tuesday that Vanilla Florentine Cookies sold in its grocery 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 retailer said about 500 packages of the holiday cookies were sold.

The cookies contained peanuts as an unlisted ingredient and a New York resident died after eating them at a social gathering in Connecticut, state health and consumer protection officials said.

That person was identified Thursday as Órla Baxendale by a law firm representing her interests. Baxendale 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.

Baxendale was born in East Lancashire in England and moved to the city to pursue a career as a dancer, according to the post.

“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.

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., president and CEO of the retailer, 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.