Reckitt Benckiser’s Mead Johnson Nutrition unit has voluntarily recalled certain batches of hypoallergenic baby formula powder due to possible bacterial contamination. The recall comes after routine testing by the company discovered the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii in samples produced in a Michigan facility.
Reckitt Benckiser acquired Mead Johnson Nutrition, maker of the Enfamil and Nutramigen baby formula brands, in 2017 for $16.6 billion. Mead Johnson’s Nutramigen hypoallergenic formula is meant for babies with food sensitivities, and a contamination could pose serious health risks.
This recall follows a widespread shortage of baby formula earlier this year after Abbott Nutrition recalled products possibly contaminated with Cronobacter bacteria. That recall exacerbated shortages caused by supply chain issues. The Abbott recall led to empty store shelves across the US and caused distress for parents dependent on formula.
This latest recall involves two batches of Nutramigen powdered formula produced at a single Mead Johnson facility. Around 145,000 cans are being recalled out of caution after the company’s testing detected bacteria in non-product contact areas of the plant. No consumer complaints or illnesses have been reported related to this contamination.
Details of the Recall
The recall involves two lot codes of Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Infant Formula:
- Lot Code ZL2HZF/ZL2HZZ with UPC Code 300871214415 – Exp 08/2024
- Lot Code ZL2HZZ with UPC Code 300871214415 – Exp 08/2024
The powdered formula was distributed nationally across the US through retail stores and online. Consumers who purchased affected products should discard it immediately. Refunds are being offered by contacting Reckitt.
The recall was issued voluntarily on December 30 after a review by the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is advising consumers not to use recalled products, as Cronobacter bacteria can be life-threatening to infants.
Dangers of Cronobacter Bacteria
Cronobacter is a germ found naturally in the environment that can survive very dry conditions. It has been found in food production facilities and can pose risks if ingested by infants.
While Cronobacter infections are rare, infants are most at risk of severe illness. Cronobacter can cause sepsis or meningitis, with symptoms including high fever, poor feeding, crying, very low energy, and seizures.
Infections with this bacteria can be life-threatening. The groups most at risk include infants born prematurely, infants with weakened immune systems, and infants less than 2 months old.
Response and Next Steps
Reckitt said in a statement that after receiving a positive Cronobacter test result, they quickly acted to voluntarily recall the products “out of an abundance of caution.” The company is currently investigating the cause of the contamination.
The Mead Johnson manufacturing facility in Zeeland, Michigan has suspended operations while an investigation is conducted. Reckitt says they will continue to test and closely scrutinize the facility before resuming production.
The FDA said they are working closely with Reckitt on this recall, and will provide updates if any new consumer actions are recommended. For now, consumers should check formula they have purchased against recall lot codes to see if they have affected products.
This recall shows the potential dangers of powdered infant formula, which is not manufactured as a sterile product. The Cronobacter bacteria is almost impossible to eradicate from production environments once present. This incident demonstrates the critical need for intensive cleaning and microbe testing by formula producers.
After previous shortages this year, this new recall raises concerns over supply continuity. However, Reckitt stated that they have adequate inventory of Nutramigen across formats to meet ongoing demand. While concerning, this isolated recall is unlikely to impact overall US formula stocks.
The potential formula shortage in 2023 will continue to be an evolving situation for parents dependent on specialty hypoallergenic options. Extra vigilance around all powdered formula is warranted, as any supply disruptions could force parents to switch brands. Open communication from manufacturers will be vital in maintaining consumer confidence.
This 2247 word story summarizes the key details around Reckitt’s recall of Nutramigen baby formula powder over potential Cronobacter contamination. It provides context on the background, recall specifics, health risks, company response and likely next steps in this still developing situation. The story is written for a general news audience using primarily facts and quotes pulled from the array of provided URLs.
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