A mother has called on a leading baby formula brand to recall a batch of one of its popular product lines after she opened a tin and discovered a dead lizard rotting inside.
Artilina Castanares, a 30-year-old mother-of-two from the outer north-western Sydney suburb The Ponds, said she made the unpleasant discovery on Friday when she opened a newly purchased tin of S-26 Original Process formula.
“I opened it and there was a funny smell. Its tail was sticking up and, thinking it was a thread, I lifted it up and it was a gecko,” Mrs Castanares said.
“I squealed and dropped it. I was in shock from then on,” she said.
Mrs Castanares said she immediately informed “Careline”, the product's contact hotline listed on the side of the tin, about her discovery.
A spokeswoman directed her to return the tin with the dead lizard inside to Aspen Australia, the company’s head office, for an investigation, but was advised she would have to wait up to two months before she heard anything.
“She [the spokeswoman] was very casual about it. She said, ‘Send it in, and well send it overseas for investigation, but be aware it will take six to eight weeks,’” Mrs Castanares said.
Mrs Castanares said this was an “unacceptable” response as “babies could be at risk”.
“I’m in shock,” she said.
"You don’t take any risk when it comes to our children. In the meantime, you would be recalling the product or at least that batch,” she said.
Mrs Castanares said she also emailed the brand's parent company Aspen Australia with photos of the tin with the dead lizard inside, as well as photos of the batch number, but received no response.
Mrs Castanares said she had been inundated with queries from other concerned mothers after she posted the same photos to a Sydney mothers’ group Facebook page, and on the product’s Facebook page.
“Some parents are freaking out over it. I’m getting private messages, emails, from mothers with the same batch number,” she said.
Mrs Castanares said she had been using the S-26 Original Process formula for two years but, after this experience, she would never buy the product again.
“I've just been turned off formula completely. I started my daughter on cow’s milk that day,” she said.
The S-26 Original Process formula is made and packaged in Singapore, which raises the possibility that the lizard was a foreign animal.
Aspen Australia was unable to be reached for comment.