Parents left shocked after opening a tin of baby formula to find it full of dirt.

Stuart Stirling purchased the tin of S-26 brand progress baby formula at the Big W, Narellan store in south west Sydney last week.

Mr Stirling told nine.com.au his wife opened the tin earlier this week.

“I was actually in my office at home when my wife opened it. She was in the kitchen. And I could hear her saying, ‘what the hell, what the hell’,” he said.

“When I saw it I couldn’t believe it.”

A picture showing the contents of the formula tin, which Mr Stirling posted on Facebook, has been shared over 500 times.

Mr Stirling said the store had offered to exchange the tin for a new one, but he would not be doing so “out of principle”.

Mr Stirling said he was prompted to share his photo to raise awareness about Big W’s policy of allowing refunds for baby formula tins.

Mr Stirling said he believed someone had bought the tin of formula and used it, before filling it up with dirt to get a refund.

“We have got some baby scales at home and I put the tin on the scales. It was a couple of grams off (the formula tin correct weight) and it was only three quarters full.

“So obviously dirt is heavier than formula so someone worked out if I fill it three-quarters full it’s going to feel the same.”

“The fact that it was $20 doesn’t bother us. To be honest there have been a few sceptical comments on that post, a few non-believers, and due to that I’m not going to exchange it, out of principle.

“I just wanted to raise awareness and let parents know to check the seal.”

Have you ever experienced something similar?

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  • no this is not good enough! surely the store should have a policy to inspect any items being returned. if you make a mistake in purchasing the wrong tin, that is understandable but this is a totally different game now!


  • got a dud one on the pack. no good


  • The store should be able to check its records to see if any has been returned at all. There may be others that haven’t been sold yet. I would hate to think it might be an inside job at the factory.


  • That’s horrible. They may need to start checking in future I hope.


  • Oh dear, what people do for money !
    It’s easy to blame Big W for their policy of allowing refunds for baby formula tins and trusting people, but we should blame those who put this dirt in the tin after taking the formula out…so wrong !

    • I agree – this is not ok – as no doubt the staff in the store would also be in trouble for not checking. Every action has a flow on effect which is just unfair.


  • Whatever the reason but this is unapologetic.


  • How awful. Hop they had a second tin on hand.


  • oh my this is so disgusting …this should be a good warning to Big W though to do better checks when people are seeking a refund.


  • Unbelievable that there are people doing that!!


  • The people who did this must be struggling but still no excuse.


  • Eww. Highlights how much some families are struggling though, if they have to fill up a formula tin with dirt and get a refund. You have to be pretty desperate to go to that much hassle.


  • That’s disgusting! What is the world coming to? You’d think the store would be a bit more careful to check the seal before putting it back on the shelf!!


  • Oh my God


  • Oh my goodness – what a horrible find! I am amazed that anyone would do this – I wonder what the charges would be if caught?


  • why would they accept a return without checking the seal was intact??


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