Dr. Lucy's Cookies Can't Be Trusted, Mom Says
NEWARK, N.J. (CN) - A child had an allergic reaction to vegan sugar cookies because the mill that produces the flour processes nuts on the same machines, her mom claims in Federal Court.
On behalf of her minor child, Joslyn Langton sued Dr. Lucy's LLC and company founder Lucy Gibney.
Langton says that her child, named in the complaint as O.L., "was diagnosed with severe food allergies, specifically including dairy, eggs and nuts, when aged approximately eight months old."
As a result of the diagnosis, Langton says she "prepares the majority of O.L.'s food and drinks from scratch, to keep accurate account of each and every ingredient."
Langton also claims to have "conducted a considerable amount of research and study with the assistance of O.L.'s medical doctors and nutritionists, to ensure her ability to identify appropriate allergen-free products for her daughter."
O.L. allegedly had an allergic reaction in March 2010, however, from snacks the family bought at a Starbucks in Montclair, N.J., after a lengthy school function.
Langton says she had initially been "pleased to discover that Starbucks offered for sale a range of cookies manufactured by Defendant Dr. Lucy's marked as containing 'NO MILK, EGGS, PEANUTS OR TREE NUTS.'"
In addition to stating the cookies were certified vegan, the packaging allegedly said that "Lucy's cookies are made in our own carefully controlled bakery with specially selected ingredients. As an added precaution we test for trace amounts of milk, eggs, gluten, peanut and almond."
Langton says the reverse-side of the package meanwhile featured a message attributed to Gibney, "addressing the consumers as her 'friends,' and explaining that she had started her own line of cookies as a result of being 'an M.D. and mother of a child with severe food allergies,' to help make the lives of those with modified diets 'a little easier.'"
These representations led Langton to purchased the sugar cookies and give them to O.L., "who had not eaten or drunk anything" that day, according to the complaint.
After O.L. "had taken approximately two bites of the product, Ms. Langton was horrified when O.L. began to express sheer panic and cough relentlessly, demonstrating a difficulty in breathing," the complaint states.
"Recognizing this as a severe allergic reaction and the precursor to full-blown anaphylactic shock, Ms. Langton administered Benadryl to O.L. in an attempt to alleviate her symptoms, and after deciding it was too dangerous to place O.L. alone in the rear of her own vehicle while experiencing such severe and unremitting symptoms, immediately thereafter called an ambulance that proceeded to transport O.L. to the emergency room at St. Barnabas Hospital, where she was diagnosed and treated for a severe allergic reaction 'by ingestion.'"
Langton says that she contacted Gibney directly after the incident while investigating what caused O.L.'s reaction.
While discussing the cookies with Gibney, she allegedly "was shocked to learn that defendants' blend of six baking flours, referred to by defendants as 'Dr. Lucy's flour blend,' is actually procured from a third-party vendor called 'Bob's Red Mill,' a supplier who is not and has not ever claimed to be an allergen-free company."
Langton says she then contacted Bob's Red Mill and "was disturbed to find that - despite the explicit guarantees on defendants' packaging that their product is made in a 'carefully controlled bakery,' is safe for individuals with severe food allergies, and does not contain nuts - five out of six of the ingredients in 'Dr. Lucy's flour blend' are processed on machines and/or equipment that also processes nuts.
"Specifically, the Bob's Red Mill flours used by defendants' to manufacture their 'allergen-free' cookies have been exposed to tree nuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
"Further, Bob's Red Mill confirmed to Ms. Langton that they would not - and could not - guarantee, claim or represent to anyone that their ingredients were free from potential cross-contamination."
This shows the Dr. Lucy's and Gibney "fail to acknowledge that they routinely use cross-contaminated ingredients sourced from non-allergen safe manufacturing plants in their specialty 'allergen-free' products," Langton claims.
Gibney said in an email that the company has "not been contacted by a court or any one else about" Langton's complaint.
Langton seeks damages for violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the New Jersey Fraud Act, as well as product liability, breach of warranty, negligence and unjust enrichment. She is represented by Denise Glatter with The Ottinger Firm of Manhattan.