Packaging firm blamed over choking

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 15:22 11/02/2014

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The head of an organic baby food company believes an Australian baby choked on a small plastic disc that made its way into a baby-food pouch, a court has heard.

The High Court at Auckland was told today that at the time of the choking, in 2011, the baby was rushed to a nearby doctor who first diagnosed the problem as an allergic reaction.

A doctor later said the incident was more likely related to two previous incidents in 2011 where Australian mothers found thumbnail-sized plastic discs in Green Monkey baby food, said Charlotte Rebbeck, chief executive of Green Monkey, now called Green Zoo.

The Christchurch-based company is suing its former packaging supplier Aperio, which it said introduced the foreign object into the food pouches before they were filled with baby food at a separate food plant.

Rebbeck told the court three customers complained about plastic discs in the food in November 2011. In response Green Monkey recalled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock while Aperio shirked its responsibilities and costs.

Rebbeck said that as a premium baby food brand Green Monkey had wanted to recall products after the first incident, but Aperio said it was a one-off random incident and its packaging was not proven to have introduced the discs.

Rebbeck told Justice Susan Thomas the company had batch numbers from affected products that showed foreign plastic discs had been present in the baby food pouches since as early as June 2011.

Rebbeck said at the time of the December 2011 recall, Green Monkey had distributors throughout Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and in the Woolworths supermarket chain in Australia, but those contracts were never renewed.

The case is set down for three weeks.

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- Fairfax Media

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