(CMR) The US Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday, 17 February, that it is investigating consumer complaints of Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella infections in several powdered infant formulas, including some Similac, Alimentum and Elecare formulas.
All of the cases are reported to have consumed powdered infant formula produced from Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan facility. As a result of the ongoing investigation, along with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local partners, the FDA is alerting consumers to avoid purchasing or using certain powdered infant formula products produced at this facility. This is an ongoing investigation, and the firm is working with the FDA to initiate a voluntary recall of the potentially affected product.
The FDA is advising 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.
The FDA is investigating complaints of four infant illnesses from three states. All four cases related to these complaints were hospitalized, and Cronobacter may have contributed to a death in one case.
The FDA has initiated an onsite inspection at the facility. Findings to date include several positive Cronobacter sakazakii results from environmental samples taken by the FDA and adverse inspectional observations by the FDA investigators. A review of the firm's internal records also indicate environmental contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii and the firm's destruction of product due to the presence of Cronobacter.
“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,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response.
“We want to reassure the public that we're working diligently with our partners to investigate complaints related to these products, which we recognize include infant formula produced at this facility, while we work to resolve this safety concern as quickly as possible,” Yiannas added.
Products made at the Sturgis, Michigan facility can be found across the US and were likely exported to other countries. However, the FDA said products that do not contain the information listed above are not impacted, and liquid formula products or any metabolic deficiency nutrition formulas are not affected.
Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine). Symptoms of sepsis and meningitis may include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes), grunting breaths, and abnormal movements. Cronobacter infection may also cause bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other parts of the body.
Parents and caregivers of infants who have used these products and are concerned about their child's health should contact their child's health care provider. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should notify your child's healthcare provider and seek medical care for your child immediately.
Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever called salmonellosis. Most people with salmonellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases, may become fatal.
The FDA said it is continuing to investigate and will provide additional consumer safety information when it becomes available.