Three different types of baby formula have been recalled after the FDA found at least four children became sick with bacterial infections, according to a news release from the federal agency. The three powdered formulas, Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, were all produced by Abbott Nutrition at a production facility in Michigan.
The FDA is currently aware of four children who needed to be hospitalized after ingesting the formula, including three who contracted Cronobacter and one who became sick with Salmonella. One of the children who became sick with Cronobacter has died and the FDA warns the infection could have been a contributing factor to the baby’s death, though that hasn’t been conclusively determined yet.
Cronobacter can cause people of any age to get diarrhoea but the bacteria can be deadly to children. One of the most common symptoms to appear in children who’ve been exposed to Cronobacter is a fever, according to the CDC.
The three powdered formulas are distributed throughout the U.S. and are even exported to other countries, according to the FDA. The four identified cases have been in Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas, though it’s not immediately clear where the child who died may have lived.
“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,” Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, said in a statement.
“We want to reassure the public that we’re working diligently with our partners to investigate complaints related to these products, which we recognise include infant formula produced at this facility, while we work to resolve this safety concern as quickly as possible,” Yiannas continued.
Abbott Nutrition released a photo to help consumers identify if they currently have the recalled formula in their home. The recall only covers formula powders and doesn’t include any liquid formula products.
Consumers are encouraged to check the bottom of the container and look at the first two digits. Numbers 22 through 37 are included in the recall. Next, look at the number and letter combination to the right, as illustrated below. If your product contains K8, SH, or Z2 and has an expiration date of April 1, 2022, or after, your product in included in the recall. Do not give the product to your child.
Consumers who are still unsure about whether their product is recalled can also visit similacrecall.com and type the code on the bottom of their package into the website. Consumers are also able to call toll free at 1-800-986-8540.
For its part, Abbott maintains it hasn’t found evidence of Cronobacter at its facility in Michigan yet:
Importantly, no distributed product has tested positive for the presence of either of these bacteria, and we continue to test. Abbott conducts extensive quality checks on each completed batch of infant formula, including microbiological analysis prior to release. All finished products are tested for Cronobacter sakazakii, Salmonella Newport and other pathogens and they must test negative before any product is released. Additionally, retained samples related to the three complaints for Cronobacter sakazakii tested negative for Cronobacter sakazakii. And the retained sample related to the complaint for Salmonella Newport tested negative for Salmonella Newport.
“We know parents depend on us to provide them with the highest quality nutrition formulas,” Joe Manning, executive vice president of nutritional products at Abbott Nutrition said in a statement.
“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.”
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.