"I'm very passionate about a lot of things" ... Jessica Williams with daughter Holly. Photo: Jonathan Carrol
A Newcastle mum has led a successful campaign to stop Woolworths selling a controversial drink for babies and toddlers.
Jessica Williams, a 25-year-old mum and midwife from Marylands, says she first saw the Bebi ‘infant beverages’ while shopping for items for her 18-month-old daughter, Holly, at her local Woolworths.
She was shocked to see the fruit juices, which are marketed for use by infants as young as six months, with teats attached to them.
Bebi ban ... The products removed from Woolworths shelves.
Williams then started a petition to have Woolworths remove Bebi products from their stores.
“Babies that young shouldn’t be drinking fruit juice; it’s just setting them up for lifelong problems like obesity and tooth decay,” she stated in the petition’s introduction.
“Unsuspecting parents will fall for the 'convenience' without realising that they violate just about every bit of medical advice out there … I’m tired of multi-million dollar companies exploiting young children with no regard for their health, best practice evidence or health guidelines."
Within two days, more than 12,000 Australians had signed the petition, while The Heart Foundation and Dental Health Services Victoria publicly commented on the negative impact the products could have on children’s health.
In the Essential Baby forum, many parents agreed with Williams. “Except on medical advice, babies should not be given juice. There should not be juice marketed as baby juice or in the baby food aisle,” one member commented.
“I'll be boycotting this product on the basis that they actively market fruit juice to babies in a bottle with a teat,” wrote another.
Yesterday, the multi-national supermarket chain announced that it would stop selling the fruit juices.
"What is clear is that there is widespread debate about the suitability of a juice product made specifically for infants," the company posted on its Facebook site.
"Given this, we’ve listened to our concerned customers and made the decision to delist the Bebi organic White Grape fruit drink and Bebi organic Apple and Banana fruit drink from our range and it will come off our shelves over coming weeks."
The store will continue to sell other Bebi products, including sterilised water for use with formula.
Williams told The Newcastle Herald she’d been surprised by how fast the campaign had worked.
‘‘I’m very passionate about a lot of things, and when I get passionate about something I want to make sure other people are educated,’’ she said.
‘‘I hope it makes companies like [Woolworths] very aware of products before they start stocking them.’’
Join the conversation about Woolworths and the Bebi drinks in the Essential Baby forum, or comment below.