An investigation is underway after a dancer from Helmshore died from an allergic reaction, after eating a cookie which contained undisclosed peanuts.

Órla Baxendale, a dancer who moved from East Lancashire to New York to pursue her dream career, died on January 11, aged 25.

The former St Veronica's Primary School pupil ate cookies manufactured by Cookies United, an American baking company, and sold by Stew Leonard’s, a supermarket chain in America.

Lancashire Telegraph: Órla Baxendale died after eating products which contained undisclosed peanutsÓrla Baxendale died after eating products which contained undisclosed peanuts (Image: Submitted)She was preparing for an Alice in Wonderland performance in New Milford, Connecticut.

The batch of Vanilla Florentine Cookies has since been recalled.

An investigation is now ongoing to determine who is responsible for the fatal error.

The legal team, who are representing Ms Baxendale’s family, said the preliminary investigation has revealed that Órla’s death occurred due to the “gross negligence and reckless conduct of the manufacturer and/or sellers” which did not properly identify the contents of the cookie on the packaging.

In a statement they said: “Órla, a talented dancer, was just 25-years-old when her life was cut short due to anaphylactic shock resulting from a severe allergic reaction.

“Órla’s passing stemmed from an unfortunate incident involving the consumption of a cookie manufactured by Cookies United and sold by Stew Leonard’s, which contained undisclosed peanuts.

"This tragic oversight has led to the recall of the Vanilla Florentine Cookies from Stew Leonard’s stores in Danbury and Newington, CT, for the period of November 6 to December 31, 2023.

“Preliminary investigation has revealed that Órla’s death occurred due to the gross negligence and reckless conduct of the manufacturer and/or sellers who failed to properly identify the contents of the cookie on the packaging.

"This failure in proper disclosure has led to this devastating yet preventable outcome.

“We stand with Órla’s family in this difficult time and extend our deepest condolences. They have been overwhelmed and comforted by the outpouring of love, support, and tributes from around the world.

“Órla’s vibrant spirit and her relentless pursuit of excellence in her art have left an indelible mark on all who knew her.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Órla Baxendale as an Irish dancerÓrla Baxendale as an Irish dancer (Image: Órla Baxendale)

In a video statement Stew Leonard's president and chief executive, Stew Leonard Junior, claimed the company’s chief safety officer was not notified of the ingredient change.

He said: “I can’t imagine how that family feels right now. We are all very sad about the whole thing.

“The supplier changed the recipe and started going from soy nuts to peanuts. Our chief safety officer at Stew Leonard’s was never notified.

"We sold [around] 500 packages of these cookies over the holiday [period]

"We have a very rigorous process that we use as far as labelling. We take labels very seriously, especially peanuts.

“I want to assure you that the food you buy at Stew Leonard’s is safe and everything is labelled properly here."

Cookies United disagree with the allegation and claim Stew Leonard's was notified about the recipe change in July 2023. It claims the information was sent to 11 Stew Leonard’s employees.

In a statement the company said: “Considering the tragedy of these circumstances, we need to point out that Stew Leonard’s was notified by Cookies United in July 2023 that this product now contains peanuts and all products shipped to them have been labelled accordingly.

“This product is sold under the Stew Leonard’s brand and repackaged at their facilities. The incorrect label was created by, and applied to, their product by Stew Leonard’s.

“In the 24 hours since Cookies United learned of this tragedy we have been cooperating with the New York State Department of Agriculture and have been informed we are in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations relating to this product.

“Our deepest sympathies to the family of this Stew Leonard’s customer.”

Órla, a former Westholme School pupil, had been performing as a dancer in New York for five years, after training at The Northern Ballet in Leeds and Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham.

She was awarded a scholarship to prestigious New York university, The Ailey School.

After graduating in May 2021, she went on to be a dancer and model in New York Fashion Week, featuring in Vogue Magazine's September 2021 edition

She was set to tour the world with dance company MOMIX, beginning with the USA before moving on to South America, Europe and Asia.

Orla’s family is now encouraging people to make a donation to Allergy UK or Anaphylaxis UK.