The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says the recent powdered baby formula recall has expanded to include another type of Similac formula. Parents and other consumers should avoid buying and using the affected formulas after an investigation linked the products to serious bacterial infections in five babies across three states.
The recalled powdered baby formulas include certain Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products made in one Michigan facility. The manufacturer and the FDA added another product — Similac PM 60/40, a specialty formula — to the list after the fifth reported illness.
So if you’re formula-feeding your little one, here’s what you need to know about the recall and how to keep your baby safe.
What infant formulas were recalled?
The recalled infant formulas all come from an Abbott Nutrition plant located in Sturgis, Michigan. They include certain Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered formulas, which can be found across the United States and likely in other countries as well, including Israel.
To check if any of your formula is included in the recall, look for the product code printed near the expiration date on the packaging.
Do not use the formula 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
Similac PM 60/40 with the lot code 27032K80 (on cans) and 27032K800 (on cases) is also now included in the recall. It’s the only type and lot of this specialty formula affected.
If you own any products included in the recall, go to similacrecall.com for a refund or replacement. Avoid using the recalled formula and throw it out immediately. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions about finding alternative feeding options.
Liquid formula products aren’t affected by this investigation, and they’re safe to use.
Why were these baby formulas recalled?
The FDA is currently investigating complaints that link the Michigan-made formula with serious bacterial infections. So far, they’ve received notice of five infants hospitalized in three states: Minnesota, Ohio and Texas. In four cases, a bacteria called Cronobacter sakazakii may have caused the illness. Two of those infants died.
The fifth case is linked to a salmonella infection, another type of bacteria.
What is Cronobacter?
Cronobacter sakazakii is a bacteria found in the natural environment. It can also live in dried foods like infant formula, powdered milk and herbal teas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Cronobacter infections are rare but potentially deadly in newborns. They can lead to serious conditions like sepsis (a blood infection) and meningitis (swelling of the linings surrounding the brain and spinal cord).
Symptoms of Cronobacter infections include:
- Poor feeding
- Very low energy
If your infant has these symptoms, take her to the doctor or the hospital right away. Your baby will likely receive antibiotics to fight the infection, as well as some tests to look for any potential complications.
How to keep your baby safe from foodborne illnesses
In addition to checking your formula and throwing away any products included in the recall, you can take other steps to prevent Cronobacter infections and other foodborne illnesses in your baby — including salmonella infections (symptoms of which include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever, chills and stomach pains, among others):
- Consider breastfeeding and/or using liquid infant formula. Both breastfeeding and using liquid infant formula are less likely to transmit bacteria like Cronobacter, according to the CDC. Breastfeeding can even protect your infant against other types of infections, including respiratory ones.
- Clean and store baby feeding products safely. Prevent contamination by sterilizing baby bottles, breast pump parts and other feeding items.
- Prepare powdered infant formula correctly. Never use expired formula, and keep lids, scoops and countertops clean. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to dilute the formula, and feed it to your baby within two hours of preparation. Throw any leftovers away, or refrigerate them and use the refrigerated formula within 24 hours.
- Keep your hands clean. Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing formula and feeding your baby.