Best-before sticker mystery: Did the sauce make her sick, or something else?

A west Auckland woman says she was left sick after consuming garlic dressing sold with a modified best-before date.

But the manufacturer says there was just a minor fault with the best-before sticker, and there's no way the dressing could be to blame.

Pam, 56, said she bought the bag of Granny Faye's garlic dressing in July, thinking she had plenty of time to use it - its best-before date wasn't until October 6. It was good enough that she had used up half the bag before noticing a curious pattern.

"I could not work out why I felt unwell and always after I use that dressing," she told Newshub. 

"I was just checking the ingredients and expiry and noticed there is another sticker underneath, so peeled the first one back carefully and saw the original expiry date.

Photos supplied to Newshub show beneath the best-before sticker saying October 6 was another one saying February 12. 

The two stickers with different best-before dates.
The two stickers with different best-before dates. Photo credit: Supplied

"It concerns me that it contains egg and I could of ended up very ill," Pam said.

The store she bought it from - Oceanz Seafood in Henderson - said they don't put best-before stickers on any of their products. Owner Leigh Homburg-Paul said they didn't even have a machine to do that - they go by what the manufacturer has told them, and in this case, the batch they ordered had a best-before date of October 6. 

"These aren't done by us at all. We buy the product and sell it."

He noted the two different stickers had different batch numbers - the one underneath, with the earlier best-before date, was from batch 1304, while the sticker on top was from batch 1355. 

Granny Faye's products are manufactured by Milligans. Food division manager Kelvin Atley said their records showed only one batch of the garlic dressing has ever been supplied to Oceanz Seafood in Henderson - 1355 in May. 

What happened, Altey said, was the bag Pam bought was originally going to contain sauce from batch 1304, and was stickered as such - best-before stickers go on before the dressing is put in, he explained, because once the liquid is in they're tricky to apply. 

But too many bags were stickered, and those left unused were placed back into storage. Months later, when batch 1355 was being packaged, they were pulled out again.

Atley said preferably the bags would have been discarded, or at least had the February best-before sticker removed, but instead a staff member just put the new best-before sticker over the old one. The dressing inside was freshly made, and October was the right best-before date, Atley said.

"I don't believe this was the only thing she ate in the week beforehand, but I don't doubt that she [felt] ill."

He said Milligans had no history of problems with its products, but as a part of its usual processes would note down this incident for the Ministry of Primary Industries to look at when it does its next review. 

Homburg-Paul told Newshub while the "breakdown in their process [was] disappointing", he said its a valid explanation based on what he knows.

"We had two containers from this batch we were holding and had not yet thrown away.  One also had a double sticker and I believe it would have been difficult to put on the stickers as they had if it was full at the time."

Pam told Newshub she didn't believe either Atley or Homburg-Paul.

"I’m surprised the manufacturer or the store who sold it both failed to check the labelling. It was the sauce that made me unwell."

No other complaints about the dressing have been received by either Oceanz or Milligans.