Florida Teen Dies Following Severe Allergic Reaction to Peanut

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News
Published: June 29, 2018

Alexi Stafford. Photo: GoFundMe
Updated: July 13, 2018 – Alexi Ryann Stafford, a 15-year-old from Weston, Florida, with a peanut allergy and asthma, has died following a severe reaction to peanut-containing cookie.

Kenneth Drysdale, a family friend speaking on behalf of the Staffords, said that what Alexi consumed on June 25, 2018 caused her to have anaphylaxis. “It was a mistake. She did not realize there was peanut butter in what she ate,” he said.

Alexi’s mother Kellie Travers-Stafford later explained on her Facebook page that her daughter was at a friend’s home when she made a fatal mistake of eating a Chips Ahoy cookie, one that turned out to have an image on the package indicating these cookies contained peanut butter.

“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’s peanut butter cups/chips,” wrote Travers-Stafford. The mother said that with the top flap of the package pulled back, it looked very similar “to what we had previously deemed ‘safe’ for her.”

The teen began to feel tingling in her mouth and came home. However, the severe anaphylactic reaction quickly progressed and her mother says Alexi stopped breathing and fell unconscious. “We administered two EpiPens while she was conscious and waited on paramedics for what felt like an eternity,” wrote Travers-Stafford. Her daughter died within an hour and a half of eating the cookie.

Mother Calls for Clearer Packaging

“The company has different colored packaging to indicate chunky, chewy, or regular but NO screaming warnings about such a fatal ingredient to many people,” said Travers-Stafford, who shared this information to warn others “so this horrible mistake doesn’t happen again.”

Peanut packaging; Chewy Chips Ahoy without the peanut icon is also a red package.
Drysdale set up a GoFundMe page, which surpassed its goal of $15,000 to cover the funeral costs and other expenses “that may arise during this tough time.”

Several donors have been from the food allergy community. They state in the comments that they have never met the family, but have a child with peanut allergies and can relate to what they’re going through.

“They are an amazing family that has focused on educating on the importance of understanding food allergies and the severity of them,” Drysdale told Allergic Living.

Alexi is described as a “kind, old soul” on the fundraiser page. In addition to her mother, she leaves behind her father Michael Stafford, two older sisters and a younger brother. Her funeral was held on July 2, 2018 in Davie, Florida.

Allergic Living reminds families managing food allergies to always read and re-read ingredients on packages every time. It is easy to make an error, and sometimes brands will change ingredients.

See also:
Student Who “Lit Up a Room” Dies of Allergic Reaction to Chinese Food