Why an Aldi product's packaging change sent a family into a panic

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A Queensland mum is distraught after an Aldi product's packaging change inadvertently triggered her daughter's illness.

Vanilla flavoured custard by Mamia, an Aldi brand, was the only food non-verbal autistic four-year-old Penny Gordon would eat. She would regularly consume between 20 and 30 pouches a day, her mum Shannon McNally said. 

Penny had become accustomed to the colours, fonts and sounds of the packaging, and the pouch was the only "safe" food for her, despite having undergone years of food therapy, Ms McNally told Yahoo News Australia.  

So when the product vanished from shelves then reappeared looking entirely different, Penny's Ipswich family began to panic. 

Shannon McNally and her daughter Penny pictured.
Shannon McNally's daughter Penny (left) refuses to eat from anything other than a specific custard pouch from Aldi. Source: Supplied

"Even the cap on the top has changed colour, and that can be a trigger on its own. The pictures are completely different and so is the font," Ms McNally said. 

"It is very difficult to explain to her that it is actually the same thing."

Penny was yesterday admitted at Ipswich Hospital and depending on how she responds to treatment, may be transferred to Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane, her mum said. 

After appealing to the public on the weekend for pouches of the custard, Ms McNally spent her Mother's Day travelling to people's homes to collect what they had left of the product with original packaging.  

While grateful for the kind donations of about 10 pouches, Ms McNally said she still was nowhere close to having enough to sustain her daughter long-term.

Penny pictured in hospital bed at Ipswich Hospital.
Penny is being treated at the Ipswich Hospital and requires a feeding tube for sustenance. Source: Supplied

She said Penny's last resort for sustenance was going to be a nasal feeding tube, because "we just don't have the stock to maintain what she needs".

"She'll just starve herself. That [the custard] is her trusted food and she's very set in her ways that it has to be that way," Ms McNally said. 

The family have tried to refill pouches with original packaging but Penny can be triggered by the absence of the clicking when the cap of a new pouch is opened. 

"We've also had issues with the pouches going mouldy because they're not packaged tight enough ... and with not being able to clean out the packages correctly," Ms McNally said. 

The family tried covering a new pouch with the old packaging as well, and even sewing customised pouches to put the new ones in, but neither were effective. 

Mamia Vanilla Flavoured Custard from Aldi pictured, before the packaging changed.
The custard's former packaging which four-year-old Penny was familar with. Source: Aldi

Aldi was contacted by Yahoo News Australia but the supermarket opted not to comment on the matter.

"It's been very stressful. I've tried to do everything to make her happy and I just can't fix this situation," Ms McNally said.

When stock ran low previously, extended family members would search several Aldi stores for the pouches, and at times were buying over a hundred pouches at once. 

Ms McNally has appealed for Aldi to be more considerate of parents with special needs children when rolling out new product packaging. 

"You never understand it until it's your household... When you're the family that's in hospital over it, you understand just how drastic it is for these children to have a safe food option," she said.

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