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Dad chokes on needle in ice cream

A Masterton father-of-two has been left anxious and furious after biting into and choking on a sewing needle which allegedly came from a tub of store-bought ice cream.

Andrew Shearman says he bought the two-litre tub of ice cream from the Masterton Pak’nSave on May 11 as a treat for his wife and two kids.

After dishing up four bowls of the ice cream, Shearman took a bite of his and began to choke.

Shearman was shocked when he felt something sharp and proceeded to spit out a 40mm-long sewing needle.

“The first thing that came to my mind was there’s no way in hell that it got in there from our house. We don’t own any kind of sewing needles,” he said.

The family immediately took photos of the needle before returning to Pak’nSave to return the tub.

Foodstuffs spokesperson Emma Wooster confirmed that Shearman brought the needle and opened tub to the Masterton store, explaining a needle had been found while eating the ice cream.

“As is the usual process in these kinds of situations, the store started an immediate investigation, which included informing both the manufacturer of the ice cream and the Ministry for Primary Industries [MPI].

“On initial examination of the returned tub at the store, no holes were visible and the customer advised the store team the tub of ice cream was correctly sealed on the first opening at home, which does seem to point towards the needle not finding its way into the ice-cream at the store,” Wooster said.

Shearman said the incident caused him to take multiple days off work.

“I had to go to the doctor to get my throat checked and have blood tests, not to mention the mass anxiety, which is still screwing with me,” he said.

Just 18 months earlier, Shearman’s daughter choked while eating an apple, which the family “are still battling with”, and the new incident brought back bad memories.

“If it was one of my kids that had bitten into this needle, things could’ve been so much worse,” he said.

A spokesperson from Much Moore Ice Cream said all customer feedback was taken seriously, and the company was always concerned about product safety and quality.

“We have completed an extremely thorough investigation. It is physically not possible for an object of this size to contaminate our ice cream-making process.

“We operate a strict critical hygiene area and an MPI-approved risk management programme as part of our quality systems. We are extremely confident the object did not originate from our process,” they said.

Shearman says what frustrates him most about the situation is that it seems the needle has appeared from nowhere.

“I’ve worked in food processing, and that doesn’t belong in an ice cream factory,” he said.

As part of the investigative process and procedure, the needle and the tub brought to the store are now with MPI.

New Zealand Food Safety [NZFS] deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle says investigations into this matter are ongoing.

Shearman says he doesn’t know what to do next if NZSF’s investigation leads to a dead end.

“I don’t expect anything free, I don’t expect to get famous, I don’t expect to get any money, I just want the word to be out there for people.” – NZME

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