15-Year-Old Girl Dies After Mistaking Peanut Chips Ahoy! Packaging for Nut-Free

Updated on 7/17/18 with statement from Nabisco representative.

Those with peanut allergies and parents of children with allergies understand how important it is to read all food labels to determine which foods are safe. Yet no matter how closely you monitor what you or your child eats, accidents can happen. This was the case for Kelly Travers-Stafford, who shared on Thursday that her 15-year-old daughter died after eating a Reeses Chips Ahoy! cookie she thought was a regular chocolate chip cookie.

Both cookies have the same red packaging, but Travers-Stafford’s daughter couldn’t see where it said Reeses once the label was peeled back. Despite two injections of epinephrine, the reaction was fatal.

Our hearts are broken and we are still in shock. Our whole lives we dedicated to keeping our child safe from one…

Posted by Kellie Travers-Stafford on Thursday, July 12, 2018

On Monday June 25, our 15 year old daughter, Alexi Ryann Stafford, while at a friends house, made a fatal choice. There was an open package of Chips Ahoy cookies, the top flap of the package was pulled back and the packaging was too similar to what we had previously deemed “safe” to her. 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. She started feeling tingling in her mouth and came straight home. Her condition rapidly deteriorated. She went into Anaphylactic shock, stopped breathing and went unconscious. We administered 2 epi pens while she was conscious and waited on paramedics for what felt like an eternity.
She died within 1& 1/2 hour of eating the cookie…

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.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. It can happen in a matter of seconds or minutes after being exposed to something you are allergic to. During anaphylaxis, your blood pressure drops and airways narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Anaphylaxis requires an injection of epinephrine and a follow-up visit to an emergency room. Without emergency intervention, these allergic reactions can be fatal.

The peanut allergy community rallied around Travers-Stafford, asking Chips Ahoy!’s parent company for better packaging to avoid another fatality.

Chips Ahoy! has not given a public statement regarding the incident but responded to a tweet:

We take allergens very seriously. Chewy Chips Ahoy! made w/ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups packaging clearly shows that it contains peanuts through words and visuals. Package color indicates Chewy, Chunky, or Original. Consumers should always read the label for allergy information.

Update: A spokesperson for Nabisco, Chips Ahoy!’s parent company, told The Mighty:

We were very saddened to hear about this situation, which we first became aware of from social media posts last Friday.

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. (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans).

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.

Banner image via Facebook

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Food allergies

A woman standing outside, wiping away her tears with her arm.

It's OK to Cry Over a Donut When the Ease of Eating Is Gone

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting my girlfriend’s dad, and her grandmother and dad decided to take us out to eat to a seafood restaurant that had received rave reviews. Before going I looked over their menu and drooled at the possibilities. I was excited and ready to devour platefuls of flaky fish, [...]
Southwest airplane

Southwest Airlines Announces It Will No Longer Serve Peanuts

Starting August 1, Southwest Airlines will no longer serve peanuts. Its decision follows an incident in March, where a Southwest Airlines employee served peanuts on a flight, causing a 9-year-old boy to have a severe allergic reaction. Flight attendants were made aware of the boy’s peanut allergy prior to the flight, but the attendant who served [...]

Got Milk? Adventures With a Dairy Allergy

My legs seemed to dissolve beneath me. My eyelids grew heavy as I plunged into sleep like I was falling off a cliff. Actually, it’s more accurate to describe what happened this way: I passed out in my sister-in-law’s guest bedroom, as if I’d been drugged. Blame it on the dry milk. Let me back [...]
kevin james in his new netflix special, "kevin james: never don't give up"

Kevin James Jokes About His Disdain for Food Allergies in New Netflix Special

On Tuesday, Netflix released “Never Don’t Give Up,” a new stand-up special starring actor and comedian Kevin James. A few moments into his performance, James launches into a segment about his disdain for people with food allergies and intolerances. “Quick announcement to the lactose intolerant community,” James begins. “If I offer you ice cream, and you [...]