The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently
warned families not to use certain powdered infant formulas that may be contaminated with bacteria.
The formulas, all manufactured at one factory in the United States, have been recalled. Five babies who received the formulas developed
Cronobacter sakazakii and
Salmonella Newport infections.
The February 2022 recall affects only certain powder formulas. They include those used both for healthy children and those with special medical needs such as severe allergies or renal disease.
Should I be worried about these bacteria in my baby's powdered infant formula?
If you use powder formula with the Similac brand name, you should check the product code on the bottom of the container. Visit the
manufacturer's website (similacrecall.com) for more information. Or, you can call 1-800-986-8540 and the company that makes the formula will assist you.
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Some of the recalled formulas are used for babies who are spitting up, have upset stomachs, severe allergies or kidney problems. These specialized formulas being recalled are Similac Alimentum, Similac Elecare and Similac PM 60/40.
Cronobacter sakazakii and
Salmonella Newport make my baby sick?
Cronobacter can cause a severe, life-threatening infection called sepsis. It can also cause meningitis (inflammation around 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 can also cause bowel damage.
Salmonella can cause stomach and intestinal illness including severe diarrhea, which can quickly cause dehydration in babies. More severe cases of Salmonella infection may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash and blood in the urine or stool.
What should I do if my baby's infant formula is recalled?
If your formula is on the list at similacrecall.com,
immediately stop feeding it to your baby. Do not throw the formula out. Instead, you should take it to the store for a refund and exchange or call the company at 1-800-986-8540 to help you. If you are receiving
WIC benefits, you should be able to obtain a different brand of similar formula but if there is any problem, call your WIC office for advice and assistance.
Do I need to talk to my pediatrician about which formula to switch to?
This is a good idea, but for many formulas you can switch either to a similar product made by another company including store brand formulas. However, if your baby is receiving Similac Alimentum, Similac Elecare or Similac PM 60/40, you should contact your pediatrician for advice and if you are receiving WIC, they will need to approve a substitution. Also make sure to check the formula cans carefully; mixing instructions (how much water and formula to add to the bottle) can be different for different formula brands.
What if I can't find a different formula in stock?
This recall comes as some areas have infant formula shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read this article for more information on what to do if you can't find formula for your baby during the pandemic.
Should I be worried about using powder formula that is not part of the recall?
No, powdered formula is very safe and formula that is not recalled may safely be used.
What about liquid formula? Why wasn't that recalled?
Liquid formula, including concentrated liquids, is sterilized using a heat process that can't be used for powdered formula. So, liquid formula is not at risk for this bacterial contamination when prepared using clean bottles and nipples. However, liquid formula is more expensive to use, and there are limited supplies available. You should continue to feel comfortable using powder formula for your baby.
Can bacteria spread in other ways when I'm feeding my baby?
Salmonella bacteria can be found in unclean baby feeding supplies and in the environment including unclean counter tops. Always follow
good safety practices when preparing infant formula for your infant.
Are there any special considerations for premature babies?
The Similac brand formula sometimes given to premature babies after they go home, called Similac Neosure, is not affected by this recall. It can safely be used. If your premature baby is still hospitalized, it is unlikely there are receiving any formulas from the recall. However, you should ask your baby’s doctor.