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What should I know about recalled baby formula?

Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP

Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP

Answer

Some liquid and powder infant formulas have been affected by recalls. Here's what parents need to know.

Recently, a small quantity of 2-ounce bottles of ready-to-feed liquid products for infants and children were recalled. Bottle caps on the recalled products may not have sealed completely, which could cause the liquid inside to spoil. If babies are fed the spoiled products, they may have diarrhea and vomiting.

Which ready-to-feed baby formulas are recalled?

Only the lot numbers listed here for the following 2-ounce liquid products are affected: Similac Pro-Total Comfort, Similac 360 Total Care, Similac 360 Total Care Sensitive, Similac Special Care 24, Similac Stage 1, Similac NeoSure, Similac Water (Sterilized) and Pedialyte Electrolyte Solution. Most of these were used in hospitals but some may have been given to families or purchased in stores. Contact your pediatrician for advice about alternative products if you have one of these. Other liquid products are not affected by the recall.

Which powdered baby formula has been recalled recently?

In February 2022, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration 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, were recalled after five babies who received the formulas developed Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella newport infections. The recall affected only certain powder formulas used both for healthy children and those with special medical needs such as severe allergies or renal disease.

Some of the recalled powder formulas were used for babies who spit up, have upset stomachs, severe allergies or kidney problems. The specialized powder formulas recalled were Similac Alimentum, Similac Elecare and Similac PM 60/40.

At this time, it is likely that very little product affected by the powder formula recall remains in any store or home.

Was your liquid or powder baby formula recalled?

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.

How can 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 recalled, immediately stop feeding it to your baby. Do not throw the formula out. Instead, you should check the Food and Drug Administration recalls/safety alert webpage for instructions. You may be required to take it to the store for a refund and exchange or call the company 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 if I switch to a different formula?

This is a good idea, but for many formulas you can switch to a similar product made by another company including store brand formulas. 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.

If your baby needs a specialized formula (for example, 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.

What if I can't find a different baby formula in stock?

Some areas have experienced 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 a shortage.

Can bacteria spread in other ways when I'm feeding my baby?

Yes, Cronobacter and 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.

More information

Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP

Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP

Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin. Within the American Academy of Pediatrics, he is past chair of the National Committee on Nutrition. Dr. Abrams also served on Dietary Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can follow him on Twitter at @stableisotope​.​​​​

Last Updated
10/19/2022
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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