powdered baby formulaThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating certain powdered infant formulas produced by Abbott Nutrition after reported bacterial infections and one death.

The company initiated a voluntary recall of potentially affected products manufactured at their Sturgis, Michigan facility, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered formulas.

“We value the trust parents place in us for high quality and safe nutrition and we’ll do whatever it takes to keep that trust and resolve this situation,” Vicky Assardo, the senior director of global public affairs at Abbott Nutrition, said in a statement.

Affected Infant Formulas

Due to consumer complaints of Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport infections in Minnesota, Ohio and Texas, the FDA alerted consumers not to use Similac, Alimentum or EleCare powdered infant formulas if:

  • The first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; and
  • The code on the container contains K8, SH or Z2; and
  • The expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections, including sepsis and meningitis, bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other areas of the body.

Salmonella bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness, with symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. In some cases, Salmonella Newport infections can be fatal. If your child is experiencing symptoms of a bacterial infection, seek immediate medical care.

Impact of Baby Formula Recall

Retailers nationwide have been struggling to stock enough infant formula for months. While manufacturers claim to be making more baby formula than ever before, the recall of certain powdered products is contributing to a shortage. Parents are driving to neighboring states, asking for help on social media and even bartering extra supply to other families in desperate need.

The FDA warned consumers about the affected Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products, only after a recent inspection found Cronobacter bacteria at the manufacturing facility in Sturgis. A review of internal records also revealed the company’s past destruction of product due to bacterial contamination.

Consumer Reports suggests the FDA could have responded sooner to address this issue. The federal agency first learned of an infant hospitalized for Cronobacter sakazakii after consuming powdered infant formula manufactured by Abbott Nutrition in September 2021.

Although an inspector was sent to the Sturgis plant that same week, the violations of sanitary standards and knowledge of an initial Cronobacter case possibly linked to Abbott’s infant formula did not become public until the February recall.

Furthermore, two years prior to the FDA’s September 2021 visit, an agency inspector found Abbott’s Michigan facility had failed to test a representative sample for salmonella at the final stage of the production cycle, despite the specific FDA regulation requiring companies to test for contamination.

What Should Parents Do?

Parents can check to see if they have previously purchased the recalled products by:

  • Comparing the code and use-by date on the bottom of the package to the recall information
  • Visiting Abbott’s website and typing in the code on the bottom of the package

If you cannot find the code on the powdered formula package, do not use it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also urges parents not to buy infant formula online from outside the United States, as it might have a fake label with a wrong use-by date.
Reports of harm continue to surface, including an infant in West Virginia who developed a salmonella infection after ingesting the recalled product. At Trantolo & Trantolo, we believe that manufacturers should be held to the highest safety standards; careless actions during production are inexcusable. If your family has been affected by the recent powdered baby formula recall, contact our product liability lawyers today.