The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents to stop using baby formula which may be contaminated with potentially lethal bacteria.
The formula has been linked to five reported cases of illness, including the deaths of two babies so far. This is heartbreaking.
The recall involves powdered Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare infant formulas manufactured in Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.
Abbott initially ordered a voluntary recall on Feb.17. At that time, the company said it was recalling the formula after the FDA received four complaints of bacterial infections from consumers.
The FDA, along with @CDCgov and state and local partners are continuing to investigate consumer complaints and/or reports of infant illness related to baby formula products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Mich. facility. Here’s an update: https://t.co/nEygfYyVZ9 pic.twitter.com/bvgZq5qEf8
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) February 28, 2022
All four of the babies were admitted to the hospital. Three were infected with Cronobacter sakazakii and one with Salmonella Newport. One of the babies with Cronobacter died.
The initial infections occurred in Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas.
Now a second baby has died of Cronobacter. While the case is still under investigation, the death is being linked to Similac infant formula, specifically Similac PM 60/40.
This has prompted Abbott Nutrition to issue a SECOND recall.
In an update on their website, Abbot writes:
“Abbott is voluntarily recalling one lot of Similac PM 60/40 (Lot # 27032K80 (can) / Lot # 27032K800 (case)) manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan.
They go on to say:
This is in addition to lots of Similac®, Alimentum® and EleCare® powder formula that were voluntarily recalled on Feb. 17.
The action comes after learning of the death of an infant who tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii and who we were informed had consumed Similac PM 60/40 from this lot.”
The company also states that “at this time the cause of the infant’s Cronobacter sakazakii infection has not been determined.” And they extend their “heartfelt sympathies to the family.”
According to the CDC, Cronobacter sakazakii is commonly found in the environment and in very dry conditions.
It has been discovered in a number of dry foods; including powdered infant formula, powdered skim milk, herbal teas, and starches.
It can cause severe, life-threatening infections or inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine. In infants, it usually causes sepsis or severe meningitis.
Symptoms of Cronobacter sakazakii to watch out for include:
- abnormal movements
- poor feeding
- grunting breaths
In addition, there has been one reported case of Salmonella Newport associated with the recalled formula.
Symptoms of Salmonella Newport include:
- abdominal cramps
- blood in the urine or stool
The products under recall have a multidigit number on the bottom of the container. Do not use Similac®, Alimentum® and EleCare® formulas if they match the following criteria:
- The first two digits of the code are 22 through 37
- The code on the container contains K8, SH, or Z2
- The expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later
As well, do not use Similac PM 60/40 if it has the following lot numbers:
- Lot #27032K80 (can)
- Lot #27032K800 (case)
NEW INFANT FORMULA RECALL: 1 lot of Similac PM 60/40 powdered infant formula recalled due to possible contamination with Cronobacter. Look for the lot code #?27032K80 (can) or # 27032K800 (case) to find out if you have recalled formula. https://t.co/A1OwP6L7Qz pic.twitter.com/JC3ac4Zld2
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 28, 2022
You can also visit similacrecall.com and type in the code on the bottom of the package, or call +1-800-986-8540 (U.S.) and follow the instructions provided to find out if the product you have is included in this recall.
“The recalls do not include liquid formula products,” the FDA said. “Consumers should continue to use all products not included in the recalls.”
If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, notify your child’s healthcare provider and seek medical care for your child immediately.
About the recall, Joe Manning, executive vice president, nutritional products, Abbott, had this to say:
“We know parents depend on us to provide them with the highest quality nutrition formulas. We’re taking this action so parents know they can trust us to meet our high standards, as well as theirs.
We deeply regret the concern and inconvenience this situation will cause parents, caregivers and health care professionals.”
As part of Abbott’s quality processes, the company is actively testing for Cronobacter sakazakii and other pathogens in their manufacturing facilities.
They admit to finding evidence of Cronobacter sakazakii in their Sturgis plant in “non-product contact areas.”
They have not found evidence of Salmonella Newport.
For now, the FDA investigation is ongoing.
Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response tells media:
“As this is a product used as the sole source of nutrition for many of our nation’s newborns and infants, the FDA is deeply concerned about these reports of bacterial infections.
The FDA hopes to resolve the safety concern as quickly as possible and will provide additional consumer safety information when it becomes available.
This recall comes at a time when the baby food industry is struggling with massive shortages. The FDA recommends consulting with your healthcare provider for recommendations on changing feeding practices.