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Urgent baby formula recall issued after the tragic death of an infant

Published Feb 19th, 2022 9:01AM EST
Woman holding feeding bottle of baby milk formula on wooden background
Image: Africa Studio/Adobe

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A company recently issued a recall for baby formula that did not meet specific nutrition and labeling requirements for infant formula. That’s an important one to watch out for, but parents should also be on the lookout for a far more serious issue. An Abbott baby formula recall was just announced following the tragic death of an infant.

The company announced the recall this week, with the FDA issuing its own warning.

Abbott baby formula recall

Abbott received four consumer complaints related to Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport in infants. All of the babies had consumed baby formula manufactured at the company’s Sturgis, Michigan, facility.

Abbott doesn’t mention the death in its press release, which is also available at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company says that samples related to the complaints tested negative for the two bacteria:

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.

The FDA baby formula recall warning

But the FDA issued a separate warning that mentions the tragic death of a baby. The agency says it’s investigating consumer complaints about infections with the two pathogens.

All four infants were hospitalized, and Cronobacter might have contributed to the death of one of them. The four babies all had consumed Abbott baby formula products that are now part of the recall.

The FDA says in its announcement that findings to date include positive testing for Cronobacter sakazakii in environmental samples taken from the facility. The FDA also found internal records that show environmental contamination with the pathogen. Additionally, they reveal the destruction of products due to the presence of Cronobacter.

The FDA advises consumers not to use Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare baby formula from Abbott 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
Abbott baby formula recall
Abbott baby formula recall: The codes are found on the bottom of the package. Image source: Abbott

The Cronobacter and Salmonella infections

Cronobacter is a bacteria that can lead to severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) and meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes protecting the brain and spine.

Symptoms in babies can include poor feeding, temperature changes, yellow skin and whites of the eyes, grunting breaths, and abnormal movements. The bacteria can cause bowel damage and can spread through the blood to other organs, the FDA explains.

But Abbott initiated the baby formula recall because it found two different bacteria.

Salmonella Newport was also detected in formula samples. Ingesting this bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Moreover, patients can experience a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool. Salmonellosis can sometimes be fatal.

What you should do

If you have Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare baby formula from the Abbott recall, you should stop using it immediately. You can ask for a full refund or replacement. Abbott has created a website for the recall.

The FDA says the affected products were available nationwide in the US, and some might have been exported to other countries.

Parents who are concerned about the health of their infants after consuming the baby formula from the recall should contact their doctors immediately. They should also seek alternatives to their usual baby formula if their regular brands are no longer available.

Also, make sure you check out the full FDA warning and the Abbott press release for more information.

Other recalls parents need to know about

Additionally, parents should be aware of a few other recent recalls.

Zeno recalled infant walkers due to fall and entrapment hazards. Children might fall through the openings and become trapped. This can lead to injury and death.

Valco recalled some of its Baby Snap Duo Trend Strollers, as the front wheels can break off while in use.

Finally, we recently covered a few children’s clothing recalls, a different infant formula recall, and a pacifier recall.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.