'Is my daughter's life only worth a $50 Woolworths' voucher?'

Julia says she’s haunted by the memory of hearing her Trixie (pictured here with big sister Charlie) choke. Source: supplied
Julia says she’s haunted by the memory of hearing her Trixie (pictured here with big sister Charlie) choke. Source: supplied

JULIA Heffernan will never forget the moment she thought she might lose her baby daughter Trixie forever.

The registered nurse from Canberra had just popped the seven-month-old into her high chair and fed her a banana Organix baby biscuit. The packet said it was safe for children seven-months and over, and Julia assumed that it was rigorously safety-tested.

Julia turned away for mere moments and when she looked back, Trixie's face was a deep red colour.

"Her eyes were bulging and she was stiff in her high chair with her head back and her arms straight at her side," Julia recalls.

"She was making a terrible gurgling sound and it was clear that she was choking."

Terrified, but thankfully able to call on her nursing skills, Julia pulled her out of the high chair and over her shoulder and began striking the little girl between her shoulder blades.

"It took several times to dislodge the piece of biscuit which was a sharp triangular piece and was bloody when it flew out of her mouth," Julia told Kidspot. "She began to vomit violently."

By a combination of a miracle and Julia's expertise, Trixie finally began to breathe normally again, though she was deeply distressed. Her high chair was covered in sharp pieces of biscuit.

The shattered, sharp biscuits that Julia unwittingly fed her little girl, before knowing how dangerous they were. Image: supplied.
The shattered, sharp biscuits that Julia unwittingly fed her little girl, before knowing how dangerous they were. Image: supplied.

"The look and sound of your baby choking is haunting and something I will never forget," Julia says.

The terrifying event happened in August last year, but it took until this month for the biscuit's makers, Organix, to recall the dangerous product, which splinter easily into sharp shards.

As Kidspot reported earlier this week, Product Safety Australia officially recalled three Organix products - Creamy Vanilla Baby Biscuits, Strawberry Baby Biscuits and Banana Baby Biscuits - on April 5. If customers have bought any of these products they're advised to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund - and most importantly, stop feeding them to any small children.

But for Julia, the warning came far too late. After her daughter's near-miss, she took all the right steps to make sure no other babies would be harmed by the dangerous biscuits, which shatter into sharp pieces.

After having Trixie assessed at her local GP she messaged Organix, who simply offered her a generic apology and a $50 Woolworths voucher. Julia was incensed by the response.

"Is that the price of my daughters life? I find your [response] frankly dismissive considering the seriousness of what happened to my daughter," Julia wrote in a reply email to the company in August 2016.

"I feel that I have an obligation to warn other parents before another child is seriously injured or killed by this product."

Julia also approached the ACCC and Woolworths with her complaint in the same month, and was told that the matter was being investigated, however this was the last Julia heard from them.

It wasn't until April 2017 that the dangerous products were pulled from shelves. Julia feels that no one took the incident with her own daughter seriously.

"I feel so angry that nobody listened to my complaints. It's terrible," she told Kidspot.

Another Kidspot reader told Julia that her son ended up in Brisbane Hospital after he stopped breathing while choking on the biscuits. That mother believes this incident may have been what finally caused the various regulatory bodies to pull the product from the shelves, which appalled Julia even further.

"My complaints weren't enough. They had to wait until a baby actually stopped breathing," she says.

Kidspot has approached both Organix and the ACCC to ask why it took seven months for the dangerous biscuits to be taken off Australian shelves.

The ACCC referred Kidspot to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, who then referred the matter back to The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Kidspot is following up as to exactly what happened to Julia's complaint and why no agency seems to have dealt with it.

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has be republished here with permission.

Topics:  editors picks heymumma parenting recall

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