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Boy with dairy allergy dies after father mistakenly gives him chocolate bar thinking it was milk-free

Raffi Pownall suffered fatal multiple allergic reactions after eating some gluten-free Morrisons chocolate that contained milk powder.
UPDATED JUL 25, 2019

A young boy with a dairy allergy suffered a fatal reaction and died after his father mistakenly gave him a gluten-free chocolate bar thinking it was "free from," an inquest has heard.

The tragic incident unfolded on June 8 when Thomas Pownall gave his son Raffi Pownall, 11, four chunks of Morrisons chocolate to eat at their home in Burnley after checking it did not contain any milk, according to the Manchester Evening News.

However, when the young boy started vomiting, Pownall checked the ingredients in the bar again and found to his horror that it was only gluten-free and that it contained milk powder. Realizing that the situation was dire, Pownall gave his son his inhaler and EpiPen and immediately called for an ambulance to transport him to the nearby Royal Blackburn Hospital for treatment.

But Raffi's reaction to the chocolate proved to be too severe, and the 11-year-old was declared dead at 5:43 pm the same day. A post-mortem subsequently determined that Raffi died from anaphylaxis secondary to the ingestion of milk-containing food, multiple allergies, and severe asthma. 

During the inquest into the death at the Blackburn Coroner's Court this past week, which was not attended by either of Raffi's parents, Coroner Richard Taylor announced that he had recorded a conclusion of accidental death and said Pownall had done "everything he could to save his son."

Raffi died after eating four chunks of Morrisons chocolate (Source: Facebook)

Taylor said father had explained how Raffi had previously vomited on occasions when he had accidentally had milk to drink but had recovered, but realized this incident might be more serious because he became "sick and hot." He told the court that the father immediately called emergency services when he realized the inhaler and EpiPen were not working. 

"I record a conclusion that this was an accidental death... having inadvertently ingested a small piece of chocolate containing milk powder that was believed to be 'free from,'" he announced.

Following the verdict, a Morrisons spokesman expressed their sadness over Raffi's death. "Our deepest sympathies are with Raffi's family at this difficult time," they said in a statement.

Raffi was a student at the Barrowford Primary School and, before his death, had passed his 11 plus exams and won a place to study at the Clitheroe Royal Grammar School. He also studied religion at the Ya Sin Islamic center in Nelson.

"He was a lovely boy who was a pleasure to teach and he will be missed dearly," said the Ya Sin institute in a tribute to the 11-year-old. "Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are with Raffi's family. Words are not sufficient to describe this loss."

"This is an extremely painful and difficult time for his parents, brother, family, teachers, friends, and classmates," they continued. "We request you all to please keep Raffi and his loved ones in your prayers."