FDA Knew of Bacteria in Baby Formula

(RepublicanNews.org) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew about bacterial contamination of baby formula for months before issuing a recall.

Politico reports that an FDA inspector confirmed to the publication that the agency knew about the formula contamination as early as November 2022. The FDA inspected a Michigan plant that produced baby formula for the company Reckitt.

Reckitt manufactures the brand Enfamil ProSobee Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula. The November inspection revealed contamination by cronobacter bacteria in the formula. While that batch was destroyed, bacteria was found in an additional 145,000 cans.

But no recall was issued until late February of 2023. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that cronobacter bacteria “can be deadly for young infants.”

Symptoms of sickness from cronobacter infection in babies include loss of appetite, fever, seizures, spinal swelling, bloodstream infections, and more. There have been no reports of children being infected.

When asked about the timing of the recall, FDA officials sent Politico a statement that the agency’s recall policies have recently been more “limited in order to minimize “disruptions to the market.”

This is not the first time cronobacter contamination has threatened the supply of baby formula.  Parents experienced a shortage of formula when the bacteria were detected in the products of an Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan in 2021. That contamination led to at least four sick babies and two deaths. 

The recall over the Abbott contamination may have been the largest in history. By contrast, the recall of Reckitt formula in February 2023 was small, and there are no reports of illness or death resulting from the contaminated formula.

After the 2021 shortage, the FDA issued a 10-page paper that said outdated systems were at fault for not taking a whistleblower’s complaints about the plant seriously.

Republicans in the US House have opened an investigation into how the FDA handled the 2021 contamination crisis and resulting shortages. They want FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to explain the agency’s “poor response.”

Copyright 2023, RepublicanNews.org