Police investigating after holes found in some baby food products sold in Auckland, Napier Countdowns

Parents are advised to check baby food in squeezable pouches after 29 were discovered with damaged packaging across numerous Countdown supermarkets in the North Island. 

Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand Food Safety director of compliance Gary Orr said all damaged products have been removed from shelves. 

The damaged products were found across six supermarkets in Auckland and one in Napier and affected three brands: Organic, Natureland and Countdown-owned Smiling Tums. 

He said investigations were underway to figure out how the products came to be punctured, including with police to rule out the possibility of deliberate damage.

“While we’ve not yet been able to be definitive about the cause of the damaged baby food packages in this instance, we’re looking into the possibility that it was the result of a manufacturing fault.”

Mr Orr said damage to packaging can occur occasionally during manufacturing and distribution. 

“In the meantime, our advice to parents is that they should check the packaging of baby food pouches before using them. You can give the packet a light squeeze to identify any holes or other damage,” he said.

“In all the damaged product that has been identified so far, the holes have been prominent and easy to see without squeezing. Of course, any product with any damaged packaging should not be consumed.

“To be on the safe side, if you have any doubts about any baby food pouches in your home, please let the retailer know and return it to the store if you can, as this might help us track down the cause of the damage.”

He urged parents with any medical concerns about their children to seek medical advice.

Detective Inspector Shaun told 1 NEWS police were making “extensive inquiries” to establish the source of the damage. 

“Police advise anyone who may have purchased any baby food packages to inspect them closely before use, and to report any damage to the retailer in the first instance,” he said.

“Police also advise people not to dispose of the product, but store in a plastic bag in the fridge in case it needs to be examined."

People can also report instances of damage by calling 105 and quoting file number 200828/3321. 

A Countdown spokesperson confirmed it was investigating the matter as a precaution.

“We have checked all baby food pouches across our Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice stores and distribution centres nationwide, and customers can be assured that the product on our shelves is undamaged,” she said.

“The safety of our team, customers and their families is our highest priority at all times. 

“MPI and the NZ Police have taken the lead on this investigation, and we are following their advice. We’ll provide whatever information they need to help with this.”

Customers are welcome to return the products for a refund, whether damaged or now, the spokesperson said.

1 NEWS is seeking comments from Organic and Natureland. 

The brands in which damaged product has been identified are:

  • Only Organic
  • Natureland
  • Smiling Tums

The stores in which damaged product has been identified are: 

  • Birkenhead Countdown, Auckland – 15 packets
  • Milford Countdown, Auckland – 4 packets
  • Meadowlands Countdown, Auckland – 1 packet
  • Three Kings Countdown, Auckland – 2 packs
  • SuperValue Avondale, Auckland – 6 packs
  • Carlyle Countdown, Napier – 1 packet