HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — For the second time in a year, a Tampa Bay area mom has complained the baby formula she bought wasn’t actually formula, rather a substance that looks and smells like flour.
Ashley Frydrych posted a photo on Facebook of the tub she believes was tampered with. She bought two tubs at the Britton Plaza Publix June 1. The first tub she fed her baby was fine, but when she went to crack open the second tub she noticed it was different.
“Initially I was really upset at myself because I noticed that it was different but we disregarded it. I didn’t trust my instincts and even my husband didn’t initially either,” she said. “The formula was in the container without the pouch.”
She thought maybe it was a packaging change and decided to mix up the formula. She gave it to her son but noticed he wouldn’t really drink it.
“I tried to feed him at 11 and he didn’t take the bottle. I thought he was full. I tried to feed him again at 3 a.m. He didn’t take the bottle, I thought maybe his stomach hurt,” she said.
By the next morning, after she prepared a bottle, her husband noticed it had separated — a white substance on the bottom, water on the top.
“It separated pretty quickly, within minutes,” she said. That’s when her husband dipped his finger in and tasted it. He said it tasted like flour.
“He would have drank 18 ounces of flour,” Frydrych said.
Last year, Ali Denning told ABC Action News she opened up the same type of Enfamil baby formula to find a substance that looked and smelled like flour.
"This one is a little bit more grainy, it’s a little harder to pack, it has a slightly yellow color to it,” said Denning, back in August when she showed us the tampered product.
She said when she bought the container at CVS the package looked fine, the protective seal was even intact on the lid. CVS was so concerned they pulled Enfamil off the shelves nationwide to conduct an investigation. They say stores in the Tampa Bay area were particularly careful and didn’t put the product back on the shelves for about four months.
"I’m not a doctor so I can’t say exactly what straight up flour would do to an eight-week infant but I can’t imagine it’s very good for them,” she said.
Frydrych is just as concerned.
“As a mom, you do everything to protect your child, anything,” she said. “And then to know that I willingly purchased something, I willingly made a bottle, I could’ve harmed him myself.”
Media reps for Publix say they take this very seriously and are in the process of contacting the Food and Drug Administration to open an investigation. They’ve also made sure other Enfamil tubs in the store with the same date and lot number were not tampered with too.
Frydrych wants Johnson/Mead, the company that makes Enfamil, to reconsider how they package the formula.
“When you pay for it in the store, crack it open at the store, open the seal before you leave because what if it is something worse?” she asked.
The company says they take tampering issues seriously as well and have a “long history of quality” and are, “confident in the safety.” of their products.
In a statement they said, “We encourage consumer feedback that we can share with our team who are continuously looking at ways to innovate our products and packaging. Importantly, we want parents to know that we take any potential tampering issue very seriously. We make all of our packaging both tamper-resistant and tamper-evident and we highlight with retail customers the liberal terms of our returns policy designed to ensure that any product returned to a merchant does not make its way back to the shelf or is not otherwise made available for purchase. We encourage consumers to check the appearance of the package, the label and the product—even differences that may be minor could be meaningful. If a consumer is uncomfortable using a product they have purchased, they are welcome to call us 1-800-BABY123."
In Denning’s situation, Johnson/Mead sent a shipping box overnight so they could get the product and test it. We have reached out for the results of that test and are waiting to hear back.
This has been reported in other states around the country — a woman was even arrested in Tucson after she was found guilty of swapping baby formula with flour at stores in that area, including at two Walmart’s. After ingesting the tampered formula, one baby got sick but is doing okay now, according to AP.
The FDA urges anyone with a food product issue to report it. You can call 1-866-337-6272 or go online and file a complaint.