A recent taste of baby food for 5-month-old Theodore Bovington was one his parents will likely never forget. The infant began choking on what his dad says was a fingernail that came from a jar of Heinz baby food, the Welwyn Hatfield Times reported.
The boy's father, Christopher Bovington, of Welwyn Garden City, said he began to panic and the boy's mother, Charis Bailes, screamed. “She held his head and was trying to get [the obstruction], but every time he coughed it moved further backwards,” Bovington told the paper. The father said he finally extracted the fingernail from Theodore's scratched throat.
The United States has its share of baby food scares. A 2007 case in Florida prompted a recall from Gerber when lumps in the company's Organic Rice Cereal generated reports of children choking. According to NBC 11, one father, Richard Andree, said he had called six weeks earlier to alert Gerber to the problem but the company did not act.
Bovington expressed anger at Heinz's response, too, according to reports. The food-maker promised to launch an investigation, but misspelled Bovington as "Bollington" in a statement to the newspaper. The company reportedly did not admit guilt nor issue an apology.
Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen told The Huffington Post that the company received the product in question on Tuesday and would begin its investigation. In an emailed response similar to one that appeared in the U.K. publication, he said:
“The quality and purity of our baby foods remains our utmost priority. We were concerned to hear from Mr Bovington and his experience with one of our baby foods. Great care and attention is given to every aspect of preparing and making our products, from sorting and screening of ingredients to the stringent precautions and exacting standards adhered to during manufacture. This variety is also strained through an extremely fine mesh. This is an isolated complaint and we are keen to carry out a full investigation."
Baby food tampering cases often attract lots of attention. In 2004, mashed beans placed in jars of Gerber's banana yogurt were found to contain small amounts of the lethal poison ricin, the Los Angeles Times reported. The baby food jars, found at a market in Irvine, Calif., also contained threatening notes. However, consuming the entire jar would have merely caused stomach discomfort in a baby, an FDA doctor told the paper at the time.
This article was updated to add a comment from Heinz.