One Alabama family's trip to the grocery store ended in tragedy after their 11-year-old son had an allergic reaction to a mislabeled cookie and died.
Publix Super Markets Inc. is now the center of a legal battle after Derek "Landon" Wood, 11, of Sterrett, Alabama, died of an allergic reaction on June 3, 2014.
The culprit: a cookie from a local Publix, which the family claims was not marked with the proper allergen label.
Derek suffered from food allergies since the age of 4. Due to this, his mother, Beth Cline, always had an epinephrine pen on hand for him.
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During a trip to a Publix while visiting Landon's aunt, the family bought a package of pre-made cookies at the store's bakery counter. The counter did not have any signs or warnings of allergens or "cross-contamination with allergens," according to the lawsuit.
Cline asked a Publix worker whether or not the chocolate cookies contained any tree nut allergens. There was nothing on the packaging that indicated any allergens or ingredients, and the employee reportedly assured Cline that there were no tree nuts allergens in the product.
Returning home, Cline took a bite of the cookie, discovered that there seemed to be no nuts, and gave it to her son.
After just three bites, though, Landon knew there was something wrong and his mouth began burning.
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The cookie contained walnuts.
Despite giving him a Benadryl and administering the epinephrine pen, Landon's condition began to deteriorate.
He eventually lost consciousness. On the way to the hospital, Landon's throat began to swell. When they arrived, doctors were unable to resuscitate the 11-year-old.
"We were very sorry to hear about the loss of this young man," said Brenda Reid, media and community relations manager for Publix Super Markets' Atlanta division. "Our prayers go up for him and his family. However, since this is an open case Publix will not be able to comment about this any further."
"This has been a nightmare, and their lives have been changed," said Eddie Schmidt, the family's attorney. "The mother and the aunt are grief-stricken and have been shaken to the core.
"The purpose of the lawsuit is to raise the awareness of food allergens that are potentially fatal in children," he continued, "to have Publix follow the federal law in labeling food allergens and obtain some measure of compensation for the family."
The lawsuit was filed on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Source: USA Today
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