A mom is calling for better packaging after her 15-year-old daughter died of anaphylactic shock from eating a peanut butter Chips Ahoy cookie
Kellie Travers-Stafford wrote on Facebook that her daughter, Alexi, was at a friend’s house on June 25 and grabbed a cookie out of an open Chips Ahoy package. Alexi had a severe peanut allergy, but believed that the cookies in red packaging were okay for her to eat.
“She ate one cookie of chewy Chips Ahoy thinking it was safe because of the ‘red’ packaging, only to find out too late that there was an added ingredient…. Reese peanut butter cups/chips,” Kellie wrote.
Alexi went straight home after feeling “tingling in her mouth,” Kellie said, but “her condition rapidly deteriorated.” Kellie said that they tried giving her two EpiPens while waiting for the paramedics, but Alexi went into anaphylactic shock, stopped breathing and went unconscious, dying “within one and a half hours of eating the cookie.”
Now, Kellie wants Chips Ahoy to add more warning labels to their packaging, and to vary the colors.
“As a mother who diligently taught her the ropes of what was okay to ingest and what was not, I feel lost and angry because she knew her limits and was aware of familiar packaging, she knew what ‘safe’ was,” Kellie wrote. “A small added indication on the pulled back flap on a familiar red package wasn’t enough to call out to her that there was ‘peanut product’ in the cookies before it was too late.”
The packaging has the same red color and similar graphics to the regular chewy Chips Ahoy version, but it does have a Reese’s logo on all sides, and the words “peanut butter cups” along with a graphic of a mini peanut butter cup. It also lists peanuts in the ingredients list, and calls them out separately as an allergen warning.
Chips Ahoy’s parent company, Mondelēz International, tells PEOPLE that they were “very saddened to hear about this situation,” adding that they learned of it after Kellie’s Facebook post spread on social media.
“We take allergies very seriously and all of our products are clearly labeled on the information panel of the packaging for the major food allergens in the U.S. … Across our Chips Ahoy! portfolio, packaging color is a cue for product texture (i.e., Chewy, Chunky, Original) and is not indicative of the presence of allergens. On packaging for Chips Ahoy! made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, branding and flavor are prominently depicted in both words and visuals on the front and side panels.”
“We always encourage consumers to read the packaging labeling when purchasing and consuming any of our products for information about product ingredients, including presence of allergens.”
Kellie said that she wants to warn others of the possible danger to allergy sufferers.
“I want to share our story with everyone because we want to spread awareness,” she said. “The company has different colored packaging to indicate chunky, chewy, or regular but NO screaming warnings about such a fatal ingredient to many people. Especially children. It’s important to us to spread awareness so that this horrible mistake doesn’t happen again.”