Ojai family finds a lot more than sandwich spread inside
By Logan Hall
Most people wouldn’t have a second thought about what was inside a can of soda, a bag of rice or a jar of Skippy peanut butter. Local man Howard Freiberg and his family may think twice about consuming their favorite products before first checking the contents.
Freiberg’s 15-year-old son David was making a snack and was about to use a new jar of Skippy peanut butter, when he noticed something out of the ordinary. “David was making a smoothie with bananas, peanut butter and juice and stuff like that,” said Freiberg. “All of a sudden, he called my wife and I into the kitchen.”
According to Freiberg, his son had dipped a knife into the jar when he hit something metallic. “My first thought was that he had broken the knife in the jar and didn’t want to say anything,” said Freiberg. “It didn’t take long to find out that wasn’t it.”
Freiberg’s son had found a 3-inch blade buried in the Skippy jar.
“That thing has a serrated blade on one side, and a smooth, sharp edge on the other,” said Freiberg. “We didn’t know what it was or where it came from, but it sure didn’t belong in a peanut butter jar.”
Freiberg received a letter from Skippy’s parent company, Unilever Consumer Services after calling with his grievance. The letter stated that Unilever was concerned by Freiberg’s report and asserted that quality control is of the “utmost importance” to the company. “We make every effort to ensure that our products reach the consumer in perfect condition …” said Unilever claims specialist Lillian Cybulski in the letter to Freiberg.
Along with the letter, Freiberg also received coupons for, of all things, Skippy peanut butter. “It seems funny to me that they would send us coupons for the product that we had found a blade in,” said Freiberg. “I don’t think we’ll use those any time soon.”
Unilever defends the products they represent and claim that their methods of product inspection are thorough. “We take consumer complaints about our products very seriously,” said Unilever spokesperson Anita Larson. “Every Unilever product undergoes rigorous safety and quality control procedures.”
When asked about the possibility of a blade being found in a Skippy jar, Larson said that Freiberg hadn’t sent the product into them for inspection, which is a vital part of finding out what happened. “I think it’s important to note that we’ve reached out to the consumer to obtain the product in question, but as yet, we’ve not received it,” said Larson. “We would very much like to receive it so we can investigate this matter further.”
Freiberg says that, though he hasn’t yet, he may still hire a lawyer to look into his case. He claims that although he has the pre-paid mailer that Unilever sent to him, he is reluctant to hand over the blade in question. “I want to have evidence of this,” said Freiberg. “If I send it to Unilever, I think it could be down-played and forgotten about.”
Freiberg says that he may get a lawyer, but it’s not for the money. “I’m interested in hiring a lawyer, not for monetary gain, but for public interest,” he said. “I want to shed some light on this and let people know that this kind of thing can and does happen. What if some kid puts his finger in a peanut butter jar and gets cut? What if the blade was smaller and we didn’t notice until someone swallowed it? These guys got lucky no one was hurt by this thing.”