The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it is investigating certain powdered infant formula after four customer reports of children contracting serious infections.
In a news release, the FDA said infections stemming from the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii and the strain Salmonella Newport have been linked to powdered infant formula produced in Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.
The FDA’s investigation includes four infant illnesses in three states — Minnesota, Ohio and Texas — that possibly connect to these products and infections.
According to the administration, all four cases were hospitalized and one death might be connected to the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.
Consumers are advised to avoid certain powdered infant formula products that come from this location while the administration works with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local partners to examine these reports.
The FDA says buyers should avoid Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas if it meets all of 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.
Parents can also type in the code on the bottom of the package at similacrecall.com to see if their product is impacted or call +1-800-986-8540.
The FDA advisory also clarified that liquid formula products or metabolic deficiency nutrition formula are not included in the warning.
“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 the news release. “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.”
According to the FDA, symptoms of Cronobacter bacteria include life-threatening infections like sepsis, meningitis, temperature changes and bowel damage. Salmonella can also cause life-threatening conditions. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, aches, fever, diarrhea.
If parents or caregivers notice an infant has these symptoms or recently consumed these products, the FDA encourages them to contact a healthcare provider and receive medical care immediately.
In a statement, Abbott Nutrition issued a voluntary recall for the impacted products and said the company's testing showed no distributed product has tested positive for the presence of either bacteria.
“Additionally, retained samples related to the three complaints for Cronobacter sakazakii tested negative for Cronobacter sakazakii,” the statement said. “And the retained sample related to the complaint for Salmonella Newport tested negative for Salmonella Newport.”
In a statement to TODAY, a spokesperson said Abbott Nutrition values the trust of parents to provide safe food for their kids and that it will “do whatever it takes to keep that trust and resolve this situation.”
The FDA warning comes amidst a baby formula shortage. Major chains like CVS, Walmart and Target are currently battling supply issues.
Dr. Kate Lockwood, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, previously spoke to TODAY about tips parents and caregivers can use to feed their children.
Lockwood shared that doctors can request special shipments for their patients who are in need of particular formulas. She also noted that doctors can suggest a regulated breast milk bank to use.
“Sometimes smaller mom and pop stores carry formula,” Lockwood said. “Think about places that might not have their shelves wiped out, like family-owned pharmacies and convenience stores.”
Both Lockwood and the FDA warned against making formula at home. The agency cautioned that making formula can cause “very serious health concerns” for a baby.