Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

Dad: 'It's hard not to be worried, it's your baby'

Potentially dangerous formula given to children after Ministry for Primary Industries advises carers to switch to Stage 1 Karicare product, then says the following day that product had also possibly been affected.

Harisha (left), Shrey and Jamal Bhikha, have found it hard to get information about the whey scare.  Photo / Michael Craig
Harisha (left), Shrey and Jamal Bhikha, have found it hard to get information about the whey scare. Photo / Michael Craig

Worried parents have criticised authorities over misinformation about Karicare formula, with many switching their children on to potentially dangerous products based on incorrect advice.

On Saturday the Ministry for Primary Industries warned the public Karicare Follow-on formula Stage 2 might be affected and advised parents to instead use infant formula, Stage 1, ready-made formulas or alternative brands.

Many parents rushed straight out to buy the Stage 1 formula based on that advice.

Yesterday the ministry changed its warning following a recall notice from Nutricia saying two batches of Stage 1 formula had also been potentially affected. It also gave more information about the batches of Stage 2 involved.

Wellington father Morgan Jones said he would not have fed his 6-month-old son potentially harmful formula if more accurate information had been released when news first broke of the contamination.

He said he was angry because he bought two of the potentially contaminated batches of Stage 1 formula on Saturday and used it to feed his son after learning the can he was using might not be safe.

It wasn't until he saw Nutricia's recall notice that he learned the original Stage 2 can he was using was actually fine because it wasn't from the affected batch.

"It's hard not to be worried ... It's your baby. They're your life and you don't want to do anything to hurt them." He said the lack of information and misinformation coming from the Government was frustrating.

"Just because there's been a cock-up at Fonterra doesn't mean there has to be a cock-up in how the information is detailed."

Other frustrated and concerned parents have contacted the Herald.

Suzy McLean had five affected cans on her cupboard shelves.

"I blame Fonterra for failing to notify the Government and the public as soon as they knew of the contamination. They could tell the public which of their customers are affected."

A Nutricia spokeswoman said yesterday the safety of customers was a primary concern. She said there were rigorous testing procedures of finished products and none tested had indicated any contamination.

Nutricia apologised for any inconvenience or stress caused, she said.

Plunket's general manager of service delivery, Brenda Hines, said it received about 400 calls from worried family members on Saturday and 300 by 4pm yesterday.

Anxious couple switch their young son to milk

As soon as Jamal and Harisha Bhikha heard about Karicare being potentially contaminated by a bacterium that could cause botulism, they switched their son Shrey to milk.

They then tried to call Karicare to find out the scale of the problem and what brands were affected, but couldn't get through.

Mr Bhikha said he also couldn't find any information on the company's website.

Speaking outside the Mt Albert branch of Pak 'n Save, the father-of-one said: "They obviously don't work weekends. We just want to know what the story is ... there's not much information out there. We've taken my son off the formula completely until we know what is safe."

The couple usually feed 20-month-old Shrey the Karicare Gold+ brand, which is one of the two products recalled.

"I didn't expect something like this to happen in New Zealand," Mr Bhikha said.

"You hear about all the troubles with contaminated milk in China, but I didn't think it would happen here.

"I read up on the symptoms and it can cause death."

- Alanah Eriksen

Advice changes

Saturday: Parents told not to use Karicare Gold+ Follow On
Formula Stage 2 and to use Stage 1 instead.
Sunday: Parents told Stage 1 should also be avoided.

- NZ Herald

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