Toward the end of May this year, Kate began giving her six-month-old daughter solids for the first time. Among them, a Heinz Farex Breakfast on the Go pouches that she’d purchased from their local supermarket.
The Sydney mum squeezed the ‘Apple and Oatmeal’ into a bowl ready to warm for her little one, but out with the oats came “thick black leaves” of what appeared to be slimy mould.
Kate* says she’d stored the product correctly, and that it was well within its expiry date.
“I just thought, ‘Oh my God! That’s disgusting,” Kate told Mamamia. “When I phoned [Heinz consumer service] to complain, they said occasionally food rots that way, with the black lumps, when air gets through little holes in the packaging. They knew what I was talking about.
“They said, ‘We always recommend that you never squeeze the product directly into their mouth.’”
The product’s packaging promotes the same message: “To serve cold, simply squeeze into a bowl or onto a spoon,” it reads.
“My baby’s still really little, so I would have done that anyway,” Kate said. “But I do have a 20-month-old and he definitely would have grabbed one of them and eaten the whole thing. You see toddlers everywhere, squeezing them into their mouths.”
But more than the experience itself, what shocked Kate most was that several weeks later she saw an animated television commercial for a new range of transparent Heinz for Baby food pouches - part of the brand's ‘Clearly Honest Food’ campaign.
You may have seen it. A baby airport security officer checks a baby traveller’s bag, inspects the food pouches inside and sends him on his way. As the baby holidaymaker leaves, he's shown sucking on one of the pouches - straight out of the tube and into his mouth.
“I understand that companies can’t guarantee their food will be perfect all the time,” Kate said. “But it’s the TV ad that’s the annoying thing to me, because they’re promoting that these are cool things that kids can eat themselves, but clearly they shouldn’t be. It’s a total mixed message.”