Maine CDC warns of potentially tainted powdered infant formula

AUGUSTA — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) recommended on Feb. 18 that consumers avoid purchasing or using certain Abbott Nutrition powdered infant formula after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation linked contaminated formula to at least four cases of illness in children. None of the cases is in Maine, but some of the affected formula was distributed to Maine.

The powdered infant formulas have the potential to be contaminated with Cronobacter, a bacterium that can cause severe foodborne illness primarily in infants. Cronobacter infections are rare but are especially high risk for newborns.

The FDA, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) and local partners, is investigating four consumer complaints of infant illness related to products from Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, Mich. The FDA received the complaints between Sept. 6, 2021, and Dec. 18, 2021. All of the cases are reported to have consumed powdered infant formula produced at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis facility. These complaints include three reports of Cronobacter sakazakii infections and one report of Salmonella Newport infection in infants. All four children involved in these complaints were hospitalized, and Cronobacter may have contributed to a death in one case.

The FDA advises 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 April 1, 2022, or later.

The code is printed on the product packaging near the expiration date. Additional information on products made by Abbott Nutrition is available on its website Link Disclaimer.

Consumers who purchased formula with these codes should stop using it and dispose of it or return it for a refund. Approximately 2,500 Maine households eligible to receive the formula through the Women, Infants, and Children’s nutrition program have been notified directly.

The FDA inspected the Sturgis facility. Findings to date include several positive Cronobacter results from environmental samples. A review of Abbott’s internal records indicates environmental contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii.

This is an ongoing investigation, and Abbott is working with the FDA to initiate a voluntary recall of potentially affected product. The FDA will provide updates should additional consumer safety information become available.

Products that do not contain the information listed above are not affected by this advisory. This advisory does not include liquid formula products or any metabolic deficiency nutrition formulas. Consumers can continue to use all product not covered by this advisory.

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (an 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.

If a child is experiencing any of these symptoms, notify the child’s health care provider and seek medical care immediately.


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