A Ramsey man died this week from an allergic reaction to chocolates he had eaten – because they were made in the same factory where peanuts are used in other products.
The Star Tribune spoke with the family of Bruce Kelly, who said the 22-year-old and his twin brother Ryan had suffered from a peanut allergy all their lives, but found they could eat many foods with warnings on the label without a reaction.
The chocolates in this instance did not have peanuts as ingredients, but the label said they were made in a place where peanuts were used in other products. Nonetheless, Bruce Kelly had eaten several of them without a reaction in the days before his death, the newspaper says.
This past Monday however, he ate "three or four" and suffered the reaction that ultimately killed him, despite efforts by his brother and father to save him with a shot of epinephrine.
His parents, Brian and Beth told WCCO their sons had been allergic from a very young age and were careful even though many products carry warning labels without necessarily having peanuts in the product. They hope their son's tragic death can be a lesson for others.
"He was just always very scared, you know, very cautious," Beth told the station. "He didn’t just disregard candy bar labels."
"It’s going to be hard, very hard to live without my son, our son," she added.
The Thurston Lindberg funeral home website says Kelly's funeral is being held Saturday at 11 a.m. He is also survived by his sister Kirsten and grandmother Rita Kelly.
PeanutAllergy.com says around 3 million Americans report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both, and it is the most common cause of food related death, with HowStuffWorks.com saying between 150-200 Americans every year die from an allergic reaction to peanuts.
According to Kids with Food Allergies, the FDA requires all packaged food with peanuts to have the ingredient labeled clearly on the package. Advisory statements such as "may contain peanut" or "made in a facility with peanut" are voluntary though.