An organic food producer is conducting an immediate investigation after a woman claimed to have found "broken soft plastic" concealed inside a pre-made meal for her child.
The concerned parent shared a photo of Only Organic's pasta bolognese, which is sold at major supermarkets, including Coles and Woolworths and is popular with families, beside the foreign object. "I found broken soft plastic in my baby's food. Any recommendations on what steps to take to properly report this?" the parent wrote on Reddit.
Others quickly flooded the comments, urging the parent to report the incident, with one claiming they'd had a similar experience with the same brand.
"I also found something in this brand of baby food! It was string or something. Wholly concerning and I reported it to them out of fear another child might choke. Obviously they don’t have good quality control or health/safety standards," a person wrote.
"Thanks for this. We buy the same product for our toddler, so we will keep a close eye out," another said.
A third suggested phoning the company which will likely "take it very seriously". "They'll probably send a local representative out to collect the piece so they can find out what part of the production line it's from, so they can make sure it doesn't happen again," the user wrote.
Only Organic taking matter 'very seriously'
Addressing the issue to Yahoo News Australia, a representative for the New Zealand food producer said the company is aware of the incident and is taking the matter "very seriously".
"At Only Organic, product safety, and that of our customers, is of utmost importance to us," the spokesperson told Yahoo News. "We are a family-run business and care deeply about the products we make. We are currently reviewing this case and are unable to comment on anything further until we have carried out the review."
Where the 'plastic' came from
After an initial investigation, Only Organic determined the plastic to be "rubber that's come from in between two of the filling pipes".
"So when the food is being filled, the two pipes are joined together with that rubber. And that's because we have no metal — we're trying not to have any metal pieces, or glass or anything on site," they said.
"As soon as we have the piece back, we will cross-check this against our first assumptions and send it to the lab for further analysis if need be.
"There is a very thorough protocol that is being followed here as soon as we have a complaint similar."
The spokesperson advised shoppers "concerned about the quality of their product" or with any questions, "to contact our customer care team so we can look into the matter for them urgently and advise accordingly". There is a batch number that can be referenced on the back of the pouch.
Never consume compromised food, expert warns
Alexandra Reagan, a scientist at Food Safety Plus, said it's crucial that should any Aussie come across food that has an unsealed package, or is contaminated or compromised in any way, that they do not ingest it, no matter how much it may seem safe to do so.
"Don't consume it: Do not eat or drink any of the food if you suspect it may be contaminated," Ms Reagan told Yahoo. "Preserve the evidence, keep the packaging and the foreign object as evidence. Take photos of the foreign object and packaging as further evidence. It may be needed for a complaint or investigation."
Ms Reagan said it's crucial to always reach out to the company that produced the food.
"You can find their contact information on the packaging. Inform them about the issue and provide details, (also) report to regulatory authorities. Depending on your location, contact your local council environmental health team to report the incident," she said.
"Seek medical attention (if necessary). If you've already consumed the food and experience any adverse effects or discomfort, consult a healthcare professional. Remember that food safety is paramount, and it's essential to report incidents to help prevent potential harm to others."
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