Origins: In November 2013 Facebook user Liz Tapan posted a video to that social network to document her claim that a pouch of Earth's Best brand Butternut Squash Pear organic baby food she had purchased at a Target store revealed upon opening to be infested with maggots or some other type of insect larvae:
Warning for all those that feed their babies from Baby food pouches!!!! This just happened to me! I bought 4 pouches at Target this evening. We got home, I gave Molly the bag and she tried it and spit it out! Then I tried it, squirted it in my mouth and almost threw up! I spit it in the sink to find bug larvae!! Yes!! Watch the video to see them for yourself!
It is unknown at this time what the point of origin (e.g., production facility, retail outlet, post-purchase) or source of the reported contamination might have been, or how widespread a contamination issue with Earth's Best products there might potentially be. Ms. Tapan has since updated her own Facebook page to note that Earth's Best responded to her and is investigating the issue:
Earth's Best Organics has reached out to me and I just got off of the phone with the Chief Marketing Officer. They have reassured me that they are currently investigating this incident, and have gone through great measures to try and figure out how to rectify this. They have sent personnel to the Target store where I purchased the product to remove the leftover products from their shelves. The are tracking the lot numbers to get more information about this batch of food. It is very possible that this was an isolated case and could have resulted from someone tampering with their product on the shelf. Again, my wish was for people to be aware that incidents such as these CAN occur and to PLEASE check your baby food before feeding it to your baby. These packages are not tamper proof, and we cannot see what is going on with them. That is NOT restricted to any one brand of food - it applies to all of these pouch foods we buy for convenience. Hopefully they will consider moving towards a more tamper proof cap or even clear bags so there is transparency and we can see what we are purchasing!
On 13 November 2013 Irwin D. Simon, the Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Hain Celestial Group, Inc., posted an update on the issue to Earth's Best Facebook page, stating that the company had not yet been able to ascertain a cause for the reported product contamination and had not yet uncovered any other instances of similar problems:
As soon as we learned about a video posted on Facebook concerning Earth's Best Organic® Butternut Squash Pear Baby Food Puree in a pouch, we acted immediately to ensure that our highest quality standards were being met in every pouch we produce. We promised that we would update you as our investigation progressed and here is what we have learned:
- We went to the store where the mom who posted the video on Facebook said she purchased the product. We bought a variety of samples of Earth's Best Organic® Butternut Squash Pear Baby Food Puree in a pouch that was on the store shelves, including two from the same production date. Our testing did not show any contaminants or any signs of potential contamination and the product met our stringent quality standards.
- In accordance with our manufacturing practices, we keep samples from each production run. We tested product from this production run, including a sample which had been
produced less than twelve minutes after the pouch bought by the mom who posted the video. We did not find a single contaminant or any signs of potential contamination, and the product met our stringent quality standards.
- We reached out to the mom who posted the video to arrange for us to inspect and test the pouch she had purchased. She initially agreed to allow us to retrieve the product, and we quickly arranged to pick up the product, but she changed her mind. Therefore, we have not been able to determine if there was some damage to the product after it left our control that could have compromised the product’s integrity.
- We even consulted with a well-respected etymologist [sic] about the possibility of insects or larvae being able to exist in the product. The scientist confirmed what we had already known. Current Good Manufacturing Practices, set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and which the company strictly adheres to, provide for high temperature processing of fruits and vegetables during the manufacturing of this product. Living insects would not be able to survive the heat treatment.
By the following day, all material related to this matter had been removed from Liz Tapan's Facebook page.