Supermarket giant Lidl has issued a recall of Paw Patrol snacks after the website listed on the products' packaging began displaying explicit content unsuitable for children.
Lidl, which operates more than 12,000 stores globally, is urging shoppers in the United Kingdom to return the snacks for a full refund.
Affected products include Paw Patrol Yummy Bakes and Paw Patrol Mini Biscotti, snacks recommended for children aged two and above. Lidl’s recall notice [PDF] dated August 22 warns that the product's packaging contains a web address that has been “compromised” to display content “not suitable for child consumption.”
“We recommend that customers refrain from viewing the URL and return this product to the nearest store where a full refund will be given,” Lidl states.
🚨 URGENT RECALL: Four types of Paw Patrol snacks are being recalled by Lidl after a website URL listed on the back of the packaging was compromised with explicit content unsuitable for children.
Customers should return the products to their nearest Lidl store for a full refund. pic.twitter.com/oppTlo2jsm
— Which? (@WhichUK) September 1, 2023
Lidl did not say how or why the website was allegedly compromised, but TechCrunch’s findings suggest that the web domain on the packaging had lapsed.
At the time of writing, the desktop website —
appykidsco.com — loads either a blank page with a message in Chinese containing search engine keywords or an error message. But when the website is opened from a device with a smaller screen, such as a phone, the website displays as a holding page with numerous ads containing animated explicit and pornographic images.
It's not uncommon for web hosts to display ads as an additional source of revenue for domains that are empty or left to expire.
A screenshot showing the Appy Kids Co. website displaying porn on an Android display. Image Credits: Zack Whittaker / TechCrunch
It's not known exactly how long the website was redirecting visitors to the explicit page, but Lidl’s notice states that “all stock” is affected.
Public internet records show the domain is registered to a person located in Lianyungang, China.
An archived version of the website shows that the website previously belonged to the manufacturer of the Paw Patrol products, a sub-brand of Appy Food & Drinks named Appy Kids Co.
Information listed on the Companies House website shows that Appy Food and Drinks was dissolved in June 2022.
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