Man With Peanut Allergy Suffers Fatal Reaction After Eating Chocolate


A young man suffered a fatal reaction after eating chocolate made in a plant that also processed foods with peanuts.

Brian Kelly said that his 22-year-old son, Bruce Kelly, died from a peanut allergy on Jan. 18 after eating chocolate with a warning that it was made alongside foods that contain peanuts. Although Kelly had no reaction to the chocolate during the first few days he ate it, there was no doubt that he was suffering an allergic reaction that Monday, during which “it was just panic. Pure panic.”

Along with his twin brother, Ryan, the brothers had grown complacent to the warnings since they had never experience a reaction to packaged foods.

“Nearly every chocolate bar you buy has the peanut warning on it,” said Brian, as reported by The Star Tribune.

According to The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, peanuts are one of eight allergens that require specific labels under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. Manufacturers of packaged foods sold in the U.S. that contain peanuts must include the presence of the allergen, in clear language, on the ingredient label. 

“But no more ignoring labels just because it didn’t bother them before,” said Brian.

The most severe reaction to peanuts is anaphylaxis, a whole body response that may include symptoms such as a drop in blood pressure, throat swelling, pale skin, and impaired breathing. Patients with asthma, such as Kelly, have an especially increased risk for such a reaction.

“There’s not going to be any more of that [food] at my house,” Brian said, regarding his son, Ryan. “That’s about all I can do. But I can’t stop everything he’s going to eat, because he’s 22.”

Although as many as 15 million Americans have allergies to specific foods, fatal reactions to food allergens are rare, according to Martha Hartz, a doctor of pediatric allergy and immunology at the Mayo Clinic.

“Peanuts are the most common cause of fatal food anaphylaxis,” she explained. “There are more patients with egg and milk allergies, but they often outgrow it. And with peanuts, people can react to a small amount, and they don’t often outgrow it.”

Sources: The Star Tribune, The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology / Photo credit: Novozymes

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