An Oamaru woman was horrified to find mould on her young son’s Mocka cot even though he slept in a warm, dry room.
Emily Hawker saw the mould on the base of her Mocka Aspiring cot two weeks ago. Since reading reports about mould on some Mocka cots in Australia about four months ago, she had regularly checked her 13-month-old son Arlo’s bed.
“I lifted up the mattress and I could see this green powdery stuff,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I felt sick to my stomach.”
A Mocka spokesperson said the company had received very limited inquiries about mould in New Zealand, and all the company’s cots complied with all mandatory and voluntary safety standards.
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Mould was reportedly found on the base of Mocka cots in Australia earlier this year, but the company said in April that it was not a New Zealand issue.
Australia’s consumer watchdog did not issue a recall notice but said in April that it had received reports of potentially dangerous mould growing on the base of some cots.
Parents were advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible if a child showed symptoms of mould exposure such as congestion, coughing or respiratory distress, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.
Have you had any mould issues with a Mocka cot? Contact email@example.com
Hawker said her son had been sick for the past month, initially with Covid but signs of illness continued.
“I took him to the doctor’s, and they said the only way they could prove that mould was a contributor is by doing quite intrusive tests that weren’t worth it. But they said it could definitely have contributed to the fact that he was quite congested, coughing, [with a] snotty nose.”
Since buying another bed, Arlo had been on steroids and antibiotics and had recovered.
A set of Mocka Brooklyn drawers in Hawker’s son’s room also became mouldy, but the other furniture was fine.
“His room’s not cold or damp, nor is our house, and we’ve got a heater in his room that keeps it constantly at 18C to 20C.”
She contacted Mocka but was unhappy about the company’s customer service, and she said she had not received an apology.
“When an issue so severe as child safety has been brought to their attention, even though they state ‘We take any safety-related feedback extremely seriously,’ I do not feel listened to or taken seriously from the tone in the responses I received.”
Mocka agreed to refund her, but it had not given an explanation of how it would rectify the problem, she said.
The company had suggested the mould was a result of the environment and a lack of proper ventilation in her house, but she said that was not true.
“We have a well-ventilated, insulated, warm, dry house with multiple heat sources, curtains and blinds that are closed at night and open in the morning, and windows that are cracked open daily. Mould has never been an issue,” she said.
The Mocka spokesperson said the company was a family brand that put customers first, “so in good faith, immediately gave Emily the choice of replacement product or a refund”.
“We have been doing extensive testing and are working with an independent safety and compliance partner to understand all factors that may contribute to mould growth.”
Since April 11, there has been one complaint to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in relation to a Mocka product, a changing table, developing mould.
No complaints had been received about Mocka cots, Simon Gallagher, the ministry’s consumer services national manager, said.
Household cots are regulated in New Zealand and must comply with the Product Safety Standards, he said. Safety requirements are limited to construction, product dimensions, structure, design and labelling, and are enforced by the Commerce Commission.
Consumers with concerns about mould were encouraged to follow Ministry of Health guidance.