Recall issued after Vancouver teen's allergic reaction to cookies with undeclared peanuts

Canada's food regulator has issued a recall for two products after a Vancouver teenager had a severe allergic reaction to cookies containing peanuts not listed as an ingredient on the label.

Imogen Paterson, 14, needed 3 EpiPens after eating cookie that contained peanuts

Sharon Paterson and her daughter, Imogen, had a scare last week after the 14-year-old had a severe allergic reaction to a cookie that contained undeclared peanuts. Imogen has had a peanut allergy since she was a child. (Sharon Paterson)

Canada's food regulator has issued a recall for two products after a Vancouver teenager had a severe allergic reaction to cookies containing peanuts not listed as an ingredient on the label.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency took the step after the Paterson family called to report Imogen, 14, had eaten Kancho Choco Biscuits.

Her mother, Sharon Paterson, said it took three adult EpiPen doses and a cocktail of antihistamines to stop her daughter's anaphylactic shock.

Imogen has been allergic to peanuts since early in her life. Last week, she and her sister — who doesn't have allergies — snacked on the cookies.

Sharon Paterson said they checked the packaging "multiple times" to ensure the cookies were peanut-free. Almonds were listed as an ingredient, but Imogen isn't allergic to them.

The Kancho Choco Biscuit label didn't mention that the cookies contained peanuts. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency ran its own tests and has since recalled the cookies over the undeclared allergen. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

Soon after consuming them, the teen started to have a reaction, her mother said.

"She started to feel her throat was scratchy and feeling all the symptoms you worry about with anaphylaxis."

Imogen's parents gave her Benadryl and an adult EpiPen dose, and took her to B.C. Children's Hospital. EpiPens contain epinephrine, the adrenaline hormone used to treat severe allergic reactions.

Nurses ultimately gave her two more EpiPens and other medications before the anaphylaxis slowed, her mother said. Imogen was hospitalized overnight, but has otherwise recovered.

"It was very scary," said Sharon Paterson. "We had some really scary moments."

Recalls issued, company responds

The Patersons phoned the CFIA after bringing Imogen home. The regulatory agency issues food recalls for products across the country.

Within days, national recalls for the cookies due to the undeclared peanuts were posted online. Paldo brand seaweed snacks are also being pulled from shelves for the same reason.

CFIA is also conducting a food safety investigation.

The company that sells the cookies, Canda Six Fortune Enterprise, said it voluntarily recalled the product after hearing from the CFIA. A statement from the manufacturer, Lotte, said peanuts aren't an ingredient in the cookies and that it was a cross-contamination issue.

It also said the product was reviewed before being sent to stores, and "at that time" peanuts weren't detected. 

Sharon Paterson said Imogen, 14, needed three adult doses of epinephrine to stop the allergic reaction. Epinephrine, or adrenaline, is the hormone in EpiPens. (James Hopkin/CBC)

Sharon said CFIA was "great" to handle the situation quickly, but she's more nervous than ever about allergies.

"[Imogen] is very fastidious with checking labels. We all are, and most parents who have children with anaphylaxis are," said Sharon Paterson, a music teacher.

"It's very tough when there's something that's not labelled correctly ... I started thinking about all the kids in my school who have peanut and nut allergies and started worrying about them, too."

The Patersons said the incident should serve as a reminder to keep a close eye on children with allergies and to always carry antihistamines or, for those with anaphylaxis, an EpiPen. 

"Just try and keep all the children with anaphylaxis safe so they can all come back home."

With files from Megan Batchelor