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Parents scramble to switch infant formulas after Abbott recall

Similac recall 3-2-22
Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 18:21:46-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Abbott Nutrition recently added more baby formula to their recall list after a handful of infants died or got sick after drinking the formula.

One lot of Similac PM 60/40 has now been added to the recall list over concerns of Cronobacter sakazakii and Cronobacter after an infant’s death.

"The most recent patient was reported to have consumed Abbott Nutrition’s Similac PM 60/40 product with the lot code 27032K800 prior to Cronobacter sakazakii infection," the FDA said.

It comes after Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare formula recalls were announced on Feb. 17.

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening sepsis infections or meningitis while Salmonella can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever, according to the FDA.

The recalls are linked to products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.

The FDA is advising everyone to stop using 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 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

Liquid infant formula is not included in the recall.

Related: FDA: Abbott Nutrition expands baby formula recall following child's death

Katherine Myers shared a video with ABC Action News that she recorded last month of her 3-month-old daughter, Emma who was sick.

“She was throwing up, had diarrhea, was screaming and so uncomfortable and I just didn’t know what was wrong with her,” Myers explained to reporter Sarah Hollenbeck.

Myers took Emma to the hospital but all tests, including for COVID-19, came back negative. A few weeks later, she learned Emma’s formula, Alimentum, was featured on a national recall list.

Katherine Myers

“It’s just scary you know?” she said while holding her daughter.

Myers can’t say for certain it was the formula making her daughter sick, but since switching off from it, she says Emma’s issues are resolved.

Riverview, Florida mom Maja Brown also discovered her 8-month-old son’s Similac cans were part of the recall. She had received them as part of a sample kit from Similac’s Strong Moms rewards program. Luckily, she saw a Facebook post before feeding it to her son.

“I received a letter in the mall today (Wednesday, March 2nd) and it’s basically telling me about the urgent recall but I got the shipment two weeks ago so I definitely would have fed it to him by now if I hadn’t stumbled across that one Facebook post,” she explained.

 Maja Brown

Melanie Newkirk, a dietician and nutritionist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, says you should stop using the recalled products right away.

“This is upsetting and it’s concerning but there are options out there,” she explained.

Newkirk says first talk to your pediatrician. But you should be able to switch to a generic, store-brand product that likely has similar ingredients.

“It’s important to know that there are store brands of formula that are very, very safe to use. In the United States, the FDA requires anything marketed as an infant formula does meet minimum nutritional guidelines,” she elaborated.

She also says if your baby drank the formula, but seems to be okay, don’t stress. “The good news is if you think your child has already consumed the recalled formula but they’ve had no problems, they haven’t become sick or had other symptoms, you don’t need to worry that maybe something is coming,” Newkirk added.

That’s the case for Yolanda Rodriguez whose 3-month-old daughter had already consumed a can and a half of the recalled Similac formula before she saw the notice on social media. “I was very worried. I wasn’t sure if I should take her to the doctor or the hospital. I decided not to take her in. She’s fine. Thank god. We switched her over and noticed she is not crying as much and doesn’t seem to be having stomach pain now,” she said.

Yolanda Rodriguez

The trouble Myers and her husband are finding is that alternatives for their hypoallergenic formula are hard to find, as the US was already grappling with a nationwide shortage.

“It’s hard because I have to drive like 30-40 miles to find it,” Jamare Myers said.

Many parents are now settling for whatever brands they can find and trusting it will keep their babies healthy.

“It’s the most important thing and it’s not something you really question. I never really thought about formula not being safe,” Brown added. She has since switched her son to another brand.

Newkirk says infant formula preparation is also crucial for safety, especially when using powered formula. She says caregivers should always wash their hands before making a bottle, prep the bottle in a location separate from where food is prepared and follow the safety instructions on the label about how long to store a prepared bottle.

Abbott issued a statement to ABC Action News in regards to the latest recalls:

"We value the trust parents place in us for high quality and safe nutrition and we’ll do whatever it takes to keep that trust. The cases are under investigation and at this time the cause of the infants’ infections have not been determined. All infant formula products are tested for Cronobacter sakazakii, Salmonella and other pathogens and they must test negative before any product is released. In addition, retained samples related to the complaints for Cronobacter sakazakii tested negative for Cronobacter sakazakii. And the retained sample related to the complaint for Salmonella tested negative for Salmonella."
Abbott Nutrition