Boy With Milk Allergy Dies From Eating Chocolate. Learn How To Be Proactive



By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder


The following story just breaks my heart!

Recently, an 11-year-old boy in the United Kingdom named Raffi Pownall died after eating a chocolate bar. He had a dairy allergy, and Raffi’s father, who gave him the bar, thought it was dairy-free. Turns out, the bar contained milk powder.

According to one news report, Raffi immediately became distressed after eating the chocolate. His EpiPen and inhaler did not work right away. 

After being transported to the hospital, Raffi died of anaphylaxis relating to his ingestion of the chocolate, multiple allergies and severe asthma, according to a coroner's office report…” 

Anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal allergic reaction. It is most commonly caused by an individual having a severe food allergy. In extreme cases of anaphylaxis, the body goes into anaphylactic shock. This is where your blood pressure suddenly drops and your airways narrow, ultimately affecting the ability to breathe. Symptoms for anaphylaxis include coughing, wheezing, tightness in your chest, rash, hives, weak pulse and in rare cases it can result in loss of life.

What’s also so tragic is that Raffi’s father bought the chocolate bar in a grocery store in a “section for people with dietary restrictions.” He realized after the fact that the chocolate he gave his son was gluten-free but not dairy-free. It appeared to be an honest mistake that unfortunately cost him his son’s life.

This tragic story is a reminder that we have to be proactive about allergies by reading food labels thoroughly, especially when it comes to children.

And it’s not just food we have to be cautious about. We recently blogged about a little girl, who was also just 11-years-old and had a dairy allergy, who died after using a brand of toothpaste that contained dairy ingredients.

In another very sad story, a woman with a severe peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend who ate a peanut butter sandwich.

These stories are extreme and may be pretty uncommon, but we still have to be aware and proactive.

According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), it is estimated that 32 million Americans have food allergies. This includes 5.6 million children under the age of 18. To put this in perspective, that equates to about one in 13 children or about two in every classroom. In addition to this, about 40 percent of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.

Furthermore, every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. And, more than 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis.

More than 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions. 

The eight major food allergens are:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish

And interestingly, FARE reports that sesame is an emerging food allergen of concern. 

Sesame allergy appears increasingly common among United States children and adults, with new research establishing it as the ninth most common type of food allergy,” according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

“Sesame allergy can cause severe allergic reactions with multiple organ system involvement (also known as anaphylaxis). As sesame is not listed as a major food allergen, consumers may be vulnerable to accidental exposure to this allergen. Sesame is present in a wide, and growing, variety of food products in the form of seeds, oils and pastes (i.e. tahini). Some cosmetics, medications, supplements and pet food also contain sesame.”

This is all why it is so important to undergo allergy testing if we even suspect that we may have allergies. We should also read food and product labels. Get a patch test, or do a full round of pH Allergies testing.

You can also consider allergy immunotherapy. If allergies are very bad, immunotherapy may be of help to you. It is a form of therapy that delivers the allergen into your body in small doses so that you can hopefully build up an immunity to those allergies over time.


Enjoy your healthy life!


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of healthcare and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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