NEWS

Abbott Recalls Several Brands of Baby Formula After Infants Are Hospitalized

Baby feeding with bottle

Getty Images / RuslanDashinsky

UPDATE

On February 28, Abbott recalled an additional lot of Similac PM 60/40 powdered infant formula, lot code 27032K80 on cans or 27032K800 on cases, following the death of an infant who contracted Cronobacter sakazakii from powdered formula produced at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI facility. These lot codes were distributed in the U.S. and Israel. You can check the lot code on the underside of the formula packaging.

Key Takeaways

  • Specific lots of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powder baby formulas have been recalled after four infants were hospitalized with an infection, potentially linked to one infant's death.
  • If you have any of the recalled formulas, throw them out immediately.
  • Fever, diarrhea, and crying are symptoms of potential bacterial infection.

Abbott Nutrition voluntarily recalled several brands of baby formula after four infants were hospitalized with bacterial infections. The recall, issued on February 17, is for specific lots of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare brands of powder baby formula.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states the infections were found in Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas. The products came from Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan facility. The bacterial contamination came from three cases of Cronobacter sakazakii and one case of Salmonella Newport, which infected infants. One of the cases of Cronobacter sakazakii may have contributed to an infant's death. Experts say both can have a severe impact on babies’ health.

Is My Formula Included in the Recall?

Parents should stop using Alimentum, EleCare, and Similac formulas if they are included in the recall. You can determine this by looking at the seven to nine-digit code and expiration date at the bottom of the package. In order for the product to fall in the recall, it should have the following three items: The first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; the code on the container has K8, SH, or Z2; the expiration date is April 1, 2022, or later. Continuing to feed your baby the formula can have a detrimental effect on their health. It is advised that you dispose of the formula.

The FDA website, as well as Abbott’s recall notice, offer more information.

Bacterial Infections and Their Impact

The two bacteria found in the formulas can be harmful to your baby's health. Cronobacter is a bacterium that exists in dry conditions, including dry foods like powder formula, herbal teas, and powdered milk. Symptoms include fever, crying, and low energy. While Cronobacter infections are rare, they can lead to sepsis or meningitis in young infants. Babies less than 12 months old can also experience seizures and long-term neurological problems, such as swelling in the linings surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Some infections can cause death. Treatment depends on the severity of the infection.

Salmonella infection can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. While adults can recover without treatment, antibiotics are recommended to help infants recover. Severe Salmonella infections can lead to long-term joint pain and can be fatal. Children under 5 years old and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to salmonella.

Bacterial infections can cause other far-reaching complications. “Depending especially on the age of the child, you can have a dehydrated baby, you can have respiratory issues, cardiac issues, and they can be lethargic,” states Gwenneth Simmonds, PhD, a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you’ve given your baby any these formula brands included in the recall, you should monitor any changes in their behavior or potential signs of infection.

If you are concerned about your infant's health, reach out to your healthcare provider.

How Is Abbott Handling the Situation?

In a statement, the company says it routinely tests for Cronobacter sakazakii and other pathogens in its manufacturing plants. Abbott notes it did find Cronobacter sakazakii in “non-product contact areas” in the Michigan facility. No evidence of Salmonella Newport was found in the facility; though the investigation remains ongoing. Currently, the company has not found either Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport in any distributed product.

Keeping Your Baby Safe

The first step is to throw away any questionable formula immediately. Of course, you still need to find something for your child to eat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a few guidelines for feeding your infant safely if you are concerned about bacteria. First, they recommend breastfeeding (if possible) or using liquid formula. You should also be careful to clean and sanitize all feeding products, as well as your hands and any preparation surfaces. If you use powder formula with an infant who is younger than 3 months, you might want to take extra precautions, like taking extreme care with measurements, boiling water for formula, and immediately cooling the mixture. Keep in mind that powdered formula is not sterile, so taking critical steps to maintain a clean environment is key. The CDC recommends using a liquid formula for babies 3 months old and younger.

Gwenneth Simmonds, PhD, CNM

Just be cautious [and] aware of what’s going on with [your] baby’s patterns. Anything that’s out of the normal or ordinary to you, have your baby checked or at least call your healthcare provider.

— Gwenneth Simmonds, PhD, CNM

Even if you are taking the right steps, awareness is key to keeping your baby safe. “Just be cautious [and] aware of what’s going on with [your] baby’s patterns," Dr. Simmonds says. "Anything that’s out of the normal or ordinary to you, have your baby checked or at least call your healthcare provider."

What This Means For You

In the case of a food product recall, keeping your baby safe is the most important thing. Even if it seems like your baby is not having an adverse reaction, and you haven't noticed any symptoms, it's better to be safe than sorry. Throw out the recalled product and take all recommended safety precautions.

Was this page helpful?
6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Food and Drug Administration. FDA Investigation of Cronobacter and Salmonella Complaints: Powdered Infant Formula (February 2022).

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. FDA investigation of cronobacter and salmonella complaints: Powdered infant formula (February 2022).

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cronobacter infection and infants.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cronobacter.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella.

  6. Abbott. Recall notice.