Manchester ballet dancer with severe peanut allergy dies after eating mislabelled cookie in US

R.I.P Órla.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 26th January 2024

A professional ballet dancer from Manchester with a severe peanut allergy has sadly died after eating a mislabelled cookie in the US.

Órla Baxendale lost her life after after suffering severe anaphylactic shock while at a social gathering in Connecticut on 11 January.

The anaphylactic shock came after she had a severe allergic reaction to a vanilla florentine cookie.

The 25-year-old – who was said to have been born and raised in Manchester, and then lived in Helmshore in East Lancashire, before moving to New York in 2018 as a scholarship student to eventually pursue her professional career in dance – had a severe peanut allergy, but the cookie she consumed at the social gathering had no mention of peanut on the ingredient list.

The cookie – which was purchased as part of a pack from US supermarket, Stew Leonard’s – was, in fact, found to have contained peanuts, despite the fact nuts were not mentioned as part of the recipe on its packaging, state health officials said.


Stew Leonard Jr, who is the president and chief executive of the retailer, said in a statement issued earlier this week, that the company‘s supplier, Cookies United, made the change from using soy nuts to peanuts in the recipe, without notifying their chief safety officer – however, Cookies United has disputed this, and claimed it informed Stew Leonard’s of the change back in July 2023.

Cookies United said Stew Leonard’s knew the product contained peanuts, and that all products shipped to the supermarket had been labelled accordingly.


The supplier said the incorrect label was created by Stew Leonard’s.

Since the news of Órla’s tragic death was announced, tributes to the talented dancer have been pouring in from across the world of arts and entertainment.

The 25-year-old’s family, and former dance schools – the prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, and the world-renowned The Ailey School in New York – as well as her current professional company, MOMIX, are among those to share their memories.


Órla’s family said in a tribute statement to her: “Órla was truly one of a kind.

“She was a beautiful, radiant, brave soul who always believed she would achieve her biggest dreams – and that’s exactly what she did. She danced her way across the world and lived life to the fullest every day.

“We will never recover from the pain of having her taken from us so soon, in the prime of her life. But we are also so proud to call her our daughter and sister, and to have had the privilege of sharing 25 years with such an incredibly special person.

“It is incomprehensible that allergies can take lives in 2024, and we want to urge everyone to educate yourselves and those around you about anaphylaxis, how to use EpiPens and the early warning signs for severe allergic reactions.

“We have been overwhelmed by the hundreds of messages coming in from across the world, from all the people who loved Órla and will never forget meeting her or seeing her dance. It is clear that she meant so much to so many people, with her mesmerising talent, her cheeky nature and her incredible compassion for others.


“The truth is, Órla got more out of life in 25 years than most do in a lifetime – and she will now live on in all our hearts forever.”

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The Baxendale family has kindly asked that anyone looking to honour Órla would please consider donating to Allergy UK in her memory.

Find out more here.

Featured Image – Órla Baxendale (via @the.thief.of.time on Instagram)