Federal health officials have raised concerns after it was discovered that Gerber baby formula, which had been recalled due to potential bacterial contamination, was still shipped to numerous retailers. The recall, initiated in March, was prompted by the possibility of Cronobacter sakazakii, a harmful bacteria, being present in certain lots of Perrigo’s Gerber Good Start SoothePro powdered infant formula manufactured in Wisconsin.
According to a notice from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., a wholesaler serving independently owned supermarkets, issued a warning on Sunday that specific lots of the recalled product were sent to independent retailers in several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, even after the recall announcement.
Retailers affected by this mishap include Food Giant, Bellview Price Cutter, Booneville Shopwise, Campbell’s Market, Camron’s Foodliner, Cash Saver, Chappell’s Hometown, Country Mart, Food City, Food World, Foodland, and Woodruff’s Supermarket.
Consumers are advised to check the affected lot codes listed in the FDA’s warning notice and discard any recalled product they may have purchased.
Perrigo, one of the major formula producers in the United States, emphasized in March that no distributed product had tested positive for the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii, and no illnesses related to the formula had been reported.
Cronobacter sakazakii is a bacteria commonly found in the environment, particularly in dry foods such as powdered infant formula, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While infections caused by Cronobacter are rare, they can be life-threatening for infants under a year old.
This incident follows a similar occurrence in February when Reckitt, another major formula producer, recalled 145,000 cans of its baby formula due to possible cross-contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii.
Notably, last year, a nationwide baby formula shortage ensued after Abbott, one of the four major U.S. formula manufacturers, issued a recall for all its products from its Michigan plant. This came after the FDA investigated rare bacterial infections in four infants who had consumed powdered formula from the same plant. Tragically, two of the infants died, although the source of the bacteria was never definitively linked to the plant.
Abbott maintains that there is no definitive evidence linking their products to illnesses in children, stating that unopened containers of formula in the affected infants’ homes tested negative for Cronobacter sakazakii.
The recurring incidents highlight the need for strict quality control measures and thorough adherence to recall protocols within the baby formula industry to ensure the safety and well-being of infants.