Christmas Day at one family home in western Sydney this year was a flick of the wrist away from going horribly wrong, after a child found a sharp, rusty blade resembling “something from a prison” inside a bon-bon.
The McNeilage family was sitting down to lunch at Northmead on Monday afternoon when 11-year-old Bobby alerted the adults to what he had discovered after ripping his bon-bon in half with his older brother.
“I pulled it out and I tipped it upside down to get it out onto the table,” Bobby told Fairfax Media. “I noticed that it was a knife thing, so then I showed everybody else.”
The “knife thing” was a large, sharp, rusty blade, wrapped in tape at one end. Did it scare him? “Kinda.”
Bobby’s mother, Melissa McNeilage, said at first the family thought it was a prank. But when they realised the blade had come from inside the bon-bon, they were stunned.
“I was just shocked to think there was that in there, it’s a dangerous weapon,” she said. But the mother-of-four added that her biggest concern was what could have happened if the bon-bon had been pulled by a younger child, or if the blade had flown out and hit someone.
“How many times when you pull the toy open does something come flying out? If it flew out it could have been heaps worse,” she said.
“If it got into the wrong hands of a little kid, something drastic could have happened. It looked like something from a prison.”
Ms McNeilage, from Blacktown, said her sister, who was hosting Christmas this year, had purchased the “Woodland 6-pack” of bon-bons from Woolworths in Winston Hills. The product was manufactured in China.
“I don’t think [my sister] will be buying Woolworths bon-bons again after that. She felt bad that she’d put these bon-bons in front of my kids.”
A Woolworths spokesperson said the company and its suppliers “have a responsibility to provide high-quality products and services to our customers and we take this responsibility very seriously. We are investigating this incident as per our product safety incident protocol.”
“The customer has been contacted and has been provided with a refund in the form of a gift card that has been issued out to her.”
Erin Turner, director of campaigns and communications at CHOICE, said “if you cracked open a bon-bon and got an unwelcome surprise you have the right to a remedy, like a refund or replacement”.
But she also said it was “not good enough” that the law only requires companies to act after something goes wrong.
“There is no general legal requirement for companies to make sure all products are safe before they hit the shelves,” she said.
“We’re calling on the federal government to pass a new law – a general safety provision – to stop dodgy items before they make it to Australian homes.”
“Such a provision would mean a big company like Woolworths would have to do basic checks to make sure that what they are selling won’t harm their customers.
“These laws are already in place in the United Kingdom and Canada – it makes sense for Australian consumers to have the same level of protections.”
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