Another version published on the same date by the Facebook page “Motherly Empire” received around 200,000 shares in the same timeframe.
Alongside three photographs of mold in a pouch of Simply Natural baby food, the screenshot of an unspecified post read:
Well I thought it would never happen to me BUT……no more pouches for Jade! She just got a mouth full of mold! (From Aldi in WS) *updated- expiration date on this was 12/2019*
Although the screenshot included an expiration date for the item, the original post was not linked and the age of the original claim was not known. Due to the story’s prominence across “mom” pages on Facebook, a number of commenters shared versions of the claim to Aldi USA’s Facebook page, but we were unable to locate any comment on this exact rumor.
Claims about mold in Aldi baby food pouches (or pouches of pureed food in general) were similar to long-circulating rumors about mold purportedly found in pouches of Capri Sun juices. In October 2018, a popular Facebook post about mold in Capri Sun pouches led to testing by the company, which subsequently found minute punctures in the drink packaging:
“A third party company came to the house to pick up the ‘sample’ & package the following day, then sent it to the lab for testing … They came back with the results a few days later and said there was a “micro-puncture” in the package allowing oxygen to enter the pouch and create the mold seen in the video/pictures.”
Which is pretty much Capri Sun’s FAQ answer to the question of “Will the mold make my child sick?”
“We’re so sorry you encountered mold! It’s unpleasant, but it’s unlikely to make you or your child sick. Although it’s rare, it is possible for food mold to grow inside containers of preservative-free juice drinks if the pouch is compromised or punctured in any way on its journey from our facilities to your grocery stores. Even if the hole is microscopic and not visibly detectable, it can be exposed to air.”
As the company noted, mold can grow in sealed, perishable food and drinks if the packaging is punctured at any time after production. In a separate FAQ response, Capri Sun’s FAQ explains:
Imagine leaving a piece of fruit like an apple or a strawberry on your counter. After time exposed to the air, mold will grow. Although it’s rare, it is possible for food mold to grow inside containers of preservative-free juice drinks if the pouch is compromised or punctured in any way on its journey from our facilities to your grocery stores. Even if the hole is microscopic and not visibly detectable, it can be exposed to air. The mold is naturally-occurring, and we understand it’s unpleasant.
Although those answers specifically had to do with Capri Sun drinks, they also described the possibility that organic matter in pouches (versus glass jars or cans) could be contaminated in a less detectable manner throughout the supply chain. While small punctures in a pouch could go unnoticed, fruit and vegetable purees in glass jars were likelier to present with a broken seal or other obvious signal of contamination.
Aldi’s Simply Natural line was the subject of a similar finding of mold in its pouches in March 2017 in Missouri:
Other brands, including Plum organics, have dealt with mold issues before.
“When you twist it, it’s locked. It’s completely locked, that it hasn’t been opened prior. I also would squeeze to make sure there’s air,” Garrett said in advising parents on how to check pouches at home.
[Dietitian Tylane] Garrett said parents should do what they can to safeguard their kids. She said, however, there could be problems in manufacturing, transit, or in the store itself before the purchase is made … The local Aldi store manager told KY3 the store had not received any pouches from the supplier in the last three days. The pouches are not available at the store on Battlefield Road at Jefferson Avenue.
[In March 2017], Aldi issued this statement:
“ALDI takes the safety and integrity of the products we sell very seriously and our Little Journey baby line is no exception.
“Our Little Journey Organic Food Puree pouches are USDA certified organic and contain no artificial preservatives. While extremely rare, if a pouch is punctured and exposed to air, mold can grow. It was brought to our attention that this occurred with pouches that were available for purchase at our Springfield store located at 421 E. Battlefield. Out of an abundance of caution, we have removed all Little Journey Organic Food Puree pouches from our store shelves in the Springfield area.
“We sincerely regret any inconvenience or concern this situation may have caused. If a customer has any concerns about this product, we encourage them to visit their local Springfield ALDI store and we’ll gladly refund the purchase price of the Little Journey Organic Food Puree pouches.”
Once again, Aldi was not the only manufacturer to contend with mold complaints relating to pouch-based baby food. A consumer reports site featured a number of posts about mold in Gerber brand baby food pouches. In 2016, the Detroit Free Press reported that all baby food in pouches is vulnerable to mold growth. In 2014, a similarly viral claim involved mold in GoGo Squeeze applesauce, a complaint that arose about Mott’s in March 2017.
The circumstances under which the baby food pouch in the photographs was contaminated were not clear. However, the vulnerability of food packaged in that manner (squeeze pouches) has been well covered as a food safety issue. On occasion, pureed baby food and drinks sold in pouches developed mold due to very small punctures in the packaging. The risk is legitimate, but the circumstances of these photographs are still unknown.