The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2004 in order to improve food labeling for the millions of Americans who suffer from food allergies. The Act requires that foods containing certain ingredients classified as “major food allergens” be labeled appropriately to alert consumers of the hazard. There are eight major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. These eight allergens comprise 90% of food allergies and account for the allergens that cause the most severe and life-threatening reactions. Failure to properly label foods that contain these allergens can result in civil liability, as well as fines and other sanctions.
An Alabama family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Publix Super Markets Inc. after their 11-year-old son suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a mislabeled cookie purchased at the Publix store in Clarksville, Tennessee. Eleven-year-old Derek “Landon” Wood suffered from an allergy to tree nuts. The family had been aware of this allergy since Landon was four-years-old, and his mother always carried an epinephrine pen in case of emergency. While visiting an aunt in Clarksville, the family went to the bakery counter of the local Publix super market. There were no signs at the ready-to-eat dessert display and no list of ingredients of allergens.
According to USA Today, the family asked a supermarket associate about a chocolate cookie called the “Chocolate Chew,” and she indicated that the cookie did not contain any tree nut allergens. When the family returned to their home in Tennessee, the boy ate his cookie and immediately recognized something was wrong. His mouth was on fire. They later learned that the cookie had walnuts in it. Landon’s mother gave him Benadryl and administered the epinephrine pen. Still, his condition worsened. Landon’s throat swelled up, and he died en route to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The family hopes that their lawsuit will raise awareness and increase compliance with food allergen labeling laws. The family is seeking damages for wrongful death, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, call our Boston personal injury lawyer experts today at 617-787-3700.