Holes found in baby food packaging was likely due to mice, according to officials in New Zealand.
Initial investigations also looked at the possibility of a manufacturing fault and involved New Zealand Police to ensure the damage was not caused deliberately.
Supermarket chain Woolworths NZ recalled squeezable baby food pouches from stores nationwide after holes were found in about 30 packets in its Auckland and Napier supermarkets.
The individual pouches of baby food with damaged packaging were found across six supermarkets in Auckland, and one in Napier. All these products have been removed from shelves. Woolworths New Zealand has also checked all baby food in their stores and distribution centers across the country to ensure no damaged product is still on shelves.
Damage due to mice infestation
The move follows the discovery of a mice infestation at two of Woolworth NZ’s Auckland distribution centers.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) reported no associated illness but advised anyone who had health concerns to seek medical advice.
Gary Orr, New Zealand Food Safety director of compliance, said: “It now looks likely that the damage was caused by these mice infestations. However, we continue to work to rule out any other possible issues in the supply chain. In the meantime we are working with Woolworths NZ to ensure corrective actions are taken so that this doesn’t happen again.”
Product is being removed from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice stores across the country. All dates, flavors and batches of Smiling Tums, Only Organics and Natureland brands sold at these stores are affected. None of these items were exported. Organics and Natureland are sold in 120-gram or 170-gram pouches. Smiling Tums comes in a 120-gram pouch.
Importance of pest control
Orr advised consumers who have any affected product to return it to retailers or throw it out.
“Mice must be kept away from food because they can contaminate the food and packaging with harmful microbes from their saliva, urine and droppings. Any food contamination is serious, but for babies it can be particularly significant, so we ask that parents check every squeezable baby food pouch in their home to ensure it is not affected by the recall,” he said.
Parents should routinely check baby food pouches for damage even if they are not affected by the recall, according to Orr.
“You can do this by giving the packet a light squeeze to identify any holes or other damage. Of course, any product with any damaged packaging should not be consumed. Damage to packaging does occur from time to time as part of the process of manufacturing and distributing food,” he said.
In all the damaged product found, the holes were prominent and easy to see without squeezing, according to officials.
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