Family's Lawsuit over Death of Alabama Boy Raises Questions about Whether Bakeries Should Label GoodsJul 9, 2015
A lawsuit filed over the death of an 11-year-old Alabama boy could have wide-reaching effects on whether or not supermarket bakeries should be required to label products for potential allergens. Allergic Living reports that Derek "Landon" Wood died of anaphylaxis after eating an unlabeled read-to-eat "Chocolate Chew" cookie from the bakery section of a Publix Supermarket in Tennessee.
Landon had multiple food allergies, one of which includes tree nuts, and asthma. According to the lawsuit, the boy's mother asked a bakery employee and was told that the cookie did not contain tree nuts. She alleges that she purchased the cookie based on this assurance. After taking thee bites, however, Landon said his mouth was burning. His symptoms worsened even though his mother gave him Benadryl; he had trouble breathing and his face turned red. He mother administered epinephrine, and his aunt called an ambulance. In the ambulance, Landon's condition improved for a short period of time before worsening again, despite more medication. He was airlifted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, where he later died.
An important aspect of the lawsuit is whether or not grocery store bakeries should be required to label all of their products, as most goods are made on site. Publix moved to have the case dismissed, arguing against the interpretations of the U.S. food allergen labeling law, or Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). However, a U.S. district judge denied that motion on June 11, 2015 and found that the case had adequate merit to proceed.
Under FALCPA, manufacturers must list the Top 8 allergens on labels of packaged foods. However, this does not apply to foods that are placed in a wrapper or container or prepared on a made-to-order basis, Allergy Living notes. An example of a food exempt from this would be a deli sandwich.
The suit wants "compensation for Publix's negligence and to raise awareness of potential fatal food allergies in American children" and asserts that the baked goods are not exempt under FALPCA. The family points out that most the foods are made at a regional facility and shipped to stores; Publix has not commented on the preparation of the Landon's cookie.