Fact Check

Did a Parent Find Codeine in Her Child's Gerber Puffs?

A Facebook user said she found a codeine tablet in her child's Gerber Puffs.

Published Feb. 23, 2017

Parents in Texas found a codeine tablet in a sealed canister of Gerber Puffs.

On 15 February 2017, Facebook user Meghan Holt Davis published a Facebook post (subsequently edited in a timeline fashion), claiming that she found a foreign object in her child's Gerber Puffs canister:

PARENTS: Please carefully inspect whatever it is you give your little ones! I put B into his high chair and dumped some Puffs onto his tray & a little piece of what looks like a white pill came out with them. After removing him, I dumped the rest of the container and found another little piece. I'm not sure what it is, but the thought that sometimes we all as parents don't always pay attention terrifies me that he or some other child could have eaten it. Always always always inspect their food/snacks! ??

Update 2/17/17: After taking the "foreign object" to be tested in 2 different cities, 3 different pharmacist have concluded that it was a Tylenol 3/Codeine 300mg. That's all I can currently say. Thank you all for helping spread the awareness!

Update # 2, 2/19/17: Other families with similar experiences are starting to contact us with information, pictures, case numbers & complaint file numbers where Gerber has swept this recklessness under the rug. This Momma & Daddy WILL get something done about this! And as I always say, continue to be vigilant when giving your child pre-packaged snacks! ?

Also- when posting this originally I did it as a scared mother, in a complete state of shock and disappointment. My goal was to reach my immediate friends and family whom we personally know. In posting and being terrified of what I had just found, I failed to mention that the container of Puffs was sealed twice. Once under the lid and one on top surrounding the lid- both seals were 110% in tact with no holes, cuts or damage. The container its self was in perfect condition. When I notified Gerber within minutes of my finding I did inform them of that from the start. Thank you to those of you whom brought it to my attention that the information regarding the seals was lacking from my post. I had stated it numerous times in comments throughout but had failed to update on the main post!

Update 2/23/17: Update: not too long ago in Illinois some parents found a white tablet of medication in their child's Gerber oatmeal and filed a police report. I just got off of the phone with that police department and they informed me that they had sent the evidence to Gerber and that Gerber said it was an isolated incident and never reported back their findings. Just a quick update for those who seem to believe this is not real or it is not worth raising concern over.

Holt Davis wrote that she located the object while pouring Gerber Puffs onto her child's high chair tray, and that she traveled to "two cities" where three separate pharmacists concluded the item was a tablet of Tylenol containing codeine, a Schedule III controlled medication. Holt Davis said that a different family also found an unidentified tablet in their child's Gerber oatmeal, and that still more families had contacted her to share their own experiences.

On 23 February 2017, we asked Gerber about the claim; a representative told us that a family in Texas reported finding a tablet in a can of Gerber Puffs, but it was not known whether anything had been sent to the company for testing. Gerber, contracting the Facebook post, told us that no additional reports of tablets in their products had been filed.

A June 2016 complaint about a pill purportedly found in a Gerber oatmeal product was initially reported in the news, but information about the outcome of an ensuing investigation was not available:

The Waterloo Police Department is warning the public about a possible case of food tampering.

A resident reported finding a pill in their baby’s food Wednesday night. The pill was found in a Gerber oatmeal and banana cereal container purchased at a Waterloo Walmart.

On 24 February 2017, we received a response from Gerber about the complaint:

Gerber was contacted by a consumer in Texas who reported finding an unexpected object – that appeared like a white pill – in one canister of GERBER Graduates Banana Flavored Puffs. The mother informed us that the object was not consumed by the child and the child was not harmed. While we are still conducting a complete investigation, based upon the facts we have and call records we log from parents, this is an isolated incident and a highly unusual circumstance for our foods.

Baby’s safety and nutrition is our number one priority. To ensure our foods are as safe as they are wholesome, we have extremely strict safety protocols and hygienic practices followed by our staff. When it comes to GERBER Graduates Banana Flavored Puffs, the safety of our snacks is achieved in ensuring that:

· Puffs are made in a hygienic facility on a dedicated baby food line.
· Workers put on special uniforms with no pockets above their waist. Any food or medicines are forbidden on the factory floor.
· Before being filled with puffs, the canister packaging is inverted and rinsed with pressurized air so each package is hygienic and clean before the puffs are placed in the package.
· We then check 100% of packages using detectors and sensors to identify any materials or large particles, including hard objects like metal, plastic and glass. When a container is rejected, we identify the particles and take immediate action to protect our products.
· Finally, canisters are triple sealed for freshness and safety before heading out to stores and homes. Our seals include foil, a plastic cap and then a full package seal wrap.
We take great care of every food and every package for baby. If parents or caregivers have any questions or concerns, we encourage them to contact us immediately at 1-800-4-GERBER. We treat every consumer call seriously and investigate product concerns thoroughly.

We also received a detailed and forthcoming response from Holt Davis, who stated she originally intended for her post to be viewable only to friends and family and was surprised by the groundswell of interest:

When I originally found the "foreign object" and made the initial Facebook post it was simply to make our family and friends aware to check their children's snacks. Prior to having my youngest son I worked in an Elementary so I know numerous teachers and parents whom I wanted to make aware ... Our children have used Gerber products for almost 12 years. Not once (prior to this happening to us recently) have we ever researched their products or looked for reviews online. Gerber promises to provide safe and healthy products for children, so we as parents trusted that.

Finding the pill in our Puffs container upset us in every level possible. The container was sealed under the lid and on top of/around the lid, both 100% intact. Had I of seen any type of damage I would have thrown it away before even opening it in its entirety as I would have assumed it happened in shipping and would have thought "no big deal, it happens." After finding the pieces of pill I immediately contacted Gerber where I was told "I can only say sorry so many times" and was offered coupons. They told me they had never heard of [similar contamination] and to [submit it to the company for testing].

Holt Davis said that while she waited for a Gerber representative to retrieve the object, her family had it independently examined:

While waiting on their representative to come to our home (almost a week later) we chose to have the "pill pieces" tested to find out exactly what it was before we sent it away ... After having it tested in 2 different locations and by 3 pharmacist it was determined and documented to be Tylenol 3/Codeine 300mg. The entire product including the pill pieces were taken to the store they were purchased at so they could document it with their corporate office in hopes of having the product pulled from their shelves.

She added that in the interim she was contacted by families reporting similar contaminants (including a penny), and maintained others shared documented complaints of a similar nature with her:

I was able to contact [a] family where they showed me pictures of the product, the penny inside, as well as the case number Gerber gave them. Gerber did nothing except offer them coupons and say it didn't happen in their facility. This really baffled me and made me wonder how often has this type of thing happened? So, I decided to research it. I have found so many awful consumer complaints of people finding wood, sharp shards of plastic, finger tips of rubber gloves and steel wool in their children's Gerber products. Everyone stating that Gerber said they were not responsible for it and only offered them coupons or cut off communication. I have been messaged on Facebook by 2 other families whom have found "medicine" in their Gerber Puffs. Both families have contacted Gerber (at the time of their findings) and have case numbers, pictures and evidence of it.

I have been contacted by a family who found a pill in the Sweet Potato Puffs that their pharmacist determined was also Tylenol 3/Codeine and they were offered free product is all. Also, as you read on my post the situation in Illinois was brought to my attention. I did contact the police station, they told me it was in fact a true "report" and that they sent everything to Gerber, were told it was an isolated incident and never contacted the police department back on their findings. The investigator we are working with was sent a copy of the case from the police department.

We have had families contact us with finding wood pieces in their products, also with case numbers from Gerber. One parent was told that Gerber still uses wood pallets to dump ingredients on ... for Gerber to make a public statement stating "we check 100% of packages using detectors and sensors to identify any materials or large particles, including hard objects like metal, plastic and glass. When a container is rejected, we identify the particles and take immediate action to protect our products" is absurd to me. If that was the case, why are all of these documented "foreign objects" ending up in children's food/snacks?

Holt Davis subsequently stated that a representative for Gerber retracted the comment about pallets made to the family complaining of wood shards in a product, asserting that the wooden crates could not be a factor in that purported instance of contamination. Stating that she did not wish to be compensated and solely wanted to make others aware of her experience, she concluded:

All we wanted was for Gerber to make the changes necessary to ensure this doesn't keep happening to children and their families. It absolutely should not take a child dying from ingesting medication in their products or choking to death on a foreign object for the changes to occur.

Holt Davis further asserted that the object was retrieved by a representative for Gerber on 22 February 2017; Gerber did not mention their retrieval of the object in either exchange. Neither Holt Davis nor Gerber had further information on the results of the company's testing, which was pending as of 24 February 2017.


RxList.   "Tylenol-Codeine." Accessed 23 February 2017.

Drugs.com.   "Schedule 3 (III) Drugs." Accessed 23 February 2017.

KMOX.   "Possible Case Of Food Tampering In Waterloo." 10 June 2016.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.