I think I’ve dreaded talking about Chips Ahoy!, their product packaging and Alexi Stafford because I didn’t really know how to comprehend my thoughts and feelings. For those of you not aware of what happened, just a few weeks ago, a 15 year old girl ate a Chips Ahoy! cookie at a friend’s house that she didn’t know contained peanut butter. The label of the cookie package was peeled back, covering the Reese’s logo and mention of peanut butter in the cookies. Because the packaging was the same for the chewy original Chips Ahoy!, she didn’t think anything of it. After administering two EpiPens, she passed away an hour and a half after consumption.
I’ve had multiple conversations about this incident with my parents and many friends from school have brought up the subject or sent the article to me. I’ve contemplated so many thoughts about it, that it’s actually hard to begin. I’ve done my best to compile them below:
- From a family aspect, it’s really hard for me to imagine how horrifying this situation is. My dad confided that this is one of his worst fears and easily something that could happen to me. The devastation in Alexi’s mom’s Facebook post is very real and I think it opened my eyes a bit more to my parents’ perspective.
- I’ve seen so many comments that are offering solutions on what the girl should have done to prevent this from happening. Hindsight sure is 20/20. As I reflect on this situation happening to me, I would hope that I would have checked the label. But in the moment, I really don’t know what I would have done. It’s almost as similar to someone telling you to always carry your EpiPen. Do I always carry my own EpiPen? Yes. But did I forget it when I went to dinner with my family this weekend? Also yes. None of us know what actually happened in the moment for her and we can’t be so quick to say we all have the correct gut reaction every time.
- The peanut allergy sniff test. Continuing on with the public making comments, it’s been brought up so frequently that she should have smelled the cookie first before eating it. Back to when I found out about my own peanut allergy, I tried “the smell test”. I was about to eat a homemade Rice Krispie treat that while it looked a little different, I smelled it and ate it. I have a very strong sense of smell for peanuts and nothing came through for me. A full blown reaction with severe hives and breathing difficulties helped to confirm my own food allergies. The sniff test doesn’t work, it’s unreliable, unsafe, and makes me sad people use it!
- Company packaging. Alexi’s mom is currently advocating for a change in packaging in Chips Ahoy! products. She doesn’t believe that the peanut butter products should look exactly the same as their peanut-free products. I completely agree. I don’t understand why Chips Ahoy! doesn’t distinguish their packaging based on flavor. I don’t know that Chips Ahoy! will do anything about it, but it’s worth a fighting shot.
- Overall, this is a horrifying incident that shouldn’t have happened and the information regarding the packaging confusion should be spread outside of the allergy community. This is a call to action to the public, to companies, to restaurants, and to public leaders to raise awareness for allergies.
Those are all of my thoughts for now. If you have any of your own, please share!