NEWS

New Abbott Baby Formula Recall Due to Potential Spoilage

Nurse feeding newborn baby with a bottle

Juanmonino / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Abbott Nutrition recalled some of its 2 fluid ounce (59 ml) bottles of ready-to-feed liquid formulas due to potential spoilage.
  • This recall is separate from the larger baby formula recall dating back to earlier this year and does not involve powdered formulas.
  • If your baby's formula is involved in the recall, you should discontinue use right away.

Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest manufacturers of infant formula, is initiating a voluntary recall of some of its 2 fluid ounce (59 ml) bottles of ready-to-feed liquid formulas manufactured in its Columbus, Ohio facility. The recall was launched after the company recognized that a small percentage of the bottles contained caps that may not have sealed completely, potentially leading to spoilage.

"We take our responsibility to deliver high-quality products very seriously," says Joe Manning, executive vice president of nutritional products at Abbott. "We internally identified the issue, are addressing it, and will work with our customers to minimize inconvenience and get them the products they need."

According to the company, most of the recalled products were distributed to hospitals, healthcare providers, distributors, and some retailers in the U.S., including Puerto Rico. Additionally, a limited number of products were sent to Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and certain countries in the Caribbean.

If you are concerned that your baby's formula may have been included in the recall—or you simply want to know if your baby's formula is safe—read on. Below we help you make sense of the recall as well as give you tips on how to identify if your baby's formula is safe to drink.

Ready-to-Feed Abbott Baby Formula Recalled

This recall includes Abbott's ready-to-feed liquid products for infants and children. The brands affected include Similac Pro-Total Comfort, Similac 360 Total Care, Similac 360 Total Care Sensitive, Similac Special Care 24, Similac Stage 1, Similac NeoSure, Similac Water (Sterilized) and Pedialyte Electrolyte Solution.

The company's other liquid or powder formulas produced in the company's Columbus facility—or at their other manufacturing locations—were not impacted. Likewise, their amino acid-based formulas or metabolic nutrition formulas also were not affected.

According to a statement from Abbott, this recall represents less than one day's worth of the total number of ounces of formula fed in the U.S. Consequently, they say that it is not expected to impact the overall U.S. infant formula supply. In order to meet the ongoing demands for infant formula, the company is continuing production of its liquid formula products on a different production line.

It is important to note, this recall is not related to the wider recall that occurred in February 2022. That incident involved Abbott Nutrition powdered infant formulas manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan that may have been contaminated with bacteria. The formulas were recalled after babies who were given the formulas developed Cronobacter sakazakii infections.

Where Can I Find the Baby Formula Lot Number?

To determine whether or not your baby's formula is included in the recall, you will need to locate the lot number. This number is printed on the bottom of the 2 fluid ounce (59 ml) bottle or on the side of the label of the bottle. It is also located on the bottom of the carton. Once you have located the lot number, check it against the list of recalled lots listed on the company's recall page.

screenshot showing where to find the lot number of the recalled baby formula

Abbott Nutrition

What Should I Do If I Have If I Have the Recalled Abbott Formula?

If your baby's formula is included in the recall, you should immediately discontinue use and contact Abbott customer service at 1-800-986-8540 for further instructions. If you are concerned that you fed your baby spoiled formula, contact your baby's pediatrician or another healthcare provider. They can advise you on what to do next.

"Families should not use any of the formula recalled whether due to contamination or faulty packaging," says Sarah Adams, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Akron Children's Hospital. "If they are unsure whether their formula is recalled, parents can call their baby's pediatrician, as well as check the Similac website."

How Do You Know If Your Formula Is Spoiled?

Even if your baby's formula supply is not included in the recall, you may still wonder how to determine when formula is spoiled. You can start by checking the formula for an unusual smell, change in color, or a difference in consistency, says Dr. Adams. Additionally, the liquid components may separate or look clumpy if it's a ready-to-feed formula.

"Another red flag that the formula may be spoiled is the shape or look of the can," Dr. Adams adds. "Bacteria also can grow on the rims and the lid and show up as a green-brown or fuzzy growth. Also, the can or bottle may swell or indent [when it is spoiled.]"

Formula may become spoiled if it has been stored improperly or if it has experienced exposure to air, moisture, heat, and extreme heat or cold, says Jami Zamyad, DCN, RD, director of clinical nutrition services at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford Medicine. To keep your formula from spoiling, you should follow the package instructions for preparation and storage.

"A great way to remember when you opened it [is to] write the date on the lid as soon as you open it so you don’t forget," Dr. Adams says.

As a general rule, unprepared formula in a can—once opened—must be used within one month, says Soniya Mehra, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Bayside Medical Group at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. Meanwhile, prepared formula must be discarded within one hour after feeding your baby.

Dr. Mehra also indicates that prepared formula that has not been given to a baby may be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This step is especially important since prepared infant formula can spoil if left out at room temperature.

"[You also should] discard any milk leftover in a bottle after your baby has drunk from it," says David Kaufman, MD, a neonatologist at the University of Virginia and advisor and board member of Share the Drop, a free platform connecting families looking to donate and/or receive breastmilk. "The mixture of the baby's saliva and formula will lead to the quick growth of bacteria."

What Happens if My Baby Drinks Spoiled Formula?

If your baby ingests spoiled formula, you may be wondering what to expect. To start, watch your infant closely for signs of discomfort, suggests Christina Johns, MD, MEd, FAAP, a pediatric emergency physician and senior medical advisor at PM Pediatric Care. You may notice signs of vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, fever, stomach cramps, fussiness, abdominal swelling, and poor appetite.

"It’s OK to observe your baby for symptoms as long as there is no fever, vomiting, or diarrhea and your child is tolerating (unexpired) fluids well," Dr. Johns says. "But if you are concerned, definitely call your baby's pediatrician—it’s what we’re here for."

For the most part, babies who drink spoiled formula often experience gastrointestinal upset similar to when an adult or older child has eaten spoiled food, explains Kirsten Jones, RD, CSP, LD, a clinical dietician and lactation expert in gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

"However, when babies have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, it can quickly affect hydration status so it is important to monitor closely and contact your pediatrician for further guidance if warranted," she says.

If your baby is immune-compromised or at higher risk, Zamyad recommends contacting your baby's pediatrician immediately. But, in an otherwise healthy baby, you can contact their pediatrician if symptoms continue or advance to fever, poor feeding, excessive crying, or low energy.

Can I Use Expired Baby Formula?

Baby formula is the only product where the USDA requires product dating. In fact, regulations require that the formula meet strict standards in order to be safe for babies; and manufacturers must disclose how long it will last on the shelf. Given this extensive research and oversight, you should never use expired formula.

[The] use by date [or expiration date] indicates that the formula is safe for ingestion and the nutrients are viable for the baby.

SARAH ADAMS, MD, FAAP

"[The] use by date [or expiration date] indicates that the formula is safe for ingestion and the nutrients are viable for the baby," says Dr. Adams. "In other words, the formula has been studied and tested to guarantee a safe shelf life without the risk of infection or food poisoning."

That said, it is important to note the difference between expired formula and spoiled formula. While expired formula is no longer a safe or nutritional option for your baby, spoiled formula indicates that the formula is contaminated with bacteria or toxins that can be extremely harmful, Dr. Adams says.

"[Once a formula expires,] a few things start happening," says Dr. Kaufman. "The protein and other nutrients start breaking down, so your baby would not be getting enough calories to grow. The formula also starts tasting bad and bacteria can start to grow. Spoiled formula already has harmful bacteria growing in amounts that can be dangerous, and expired formula may as well."

While it can be tempting to take a chance with formula you have on hand—especially if your supply is limited—most experts advise against it. Not only is your baby at risk of getting very ill, but the formula's nutrients may degrade. This means your baby would not be getting the vitamins and minerals needed. If your baby is not receiving the full nutritional value of the formula, this could affect their developmental milestones, Jones says.

"Given the recall, I wouldn’t compromise and use any formula that could possibly be expired, spoiled, or is after the use-by date," adds Dr. Adams. "Any expired or spoiled formula should be thrown away. Be sure to talk to your baby's healthcare provider as they will help with formula samples and can help with questions regarding the formula they have. [Also] do not make your own formula or mix the formula any differently than what is directed to make the formula 'stretch.'"

What This Means For You

While any recall of formula can cause alarm—especially with the recent formula shortage—it is important to remember that this recall is limited to ready-to-feed formulas in a small distribution area. That said, you should not feed your baby any of the recalled brands until you determine whether or not your baby's formula has been impacted by the recall.

If your formula's lot numbers do not match those provided by Abbott, you are likely safe to feed your baby as normal. If you are still concerned, though, talk with your baby's pediatrician or another healthcare provider for advice.

7 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. Abbott. Abbott voluntarily recalls certain lots of 2 fl. oz./59 mL bottles of ready-to-feed liquid products; Recall is not expected to impact U.S. infant formula supply.

  2. Abbott. Similac recall.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA warns consumers not to use certain powdered infant formula produced in Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cronobacter and powdered infant formula investigation.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infant formula preparation and storage.

  6. United States Department of Agriculture. Food product dating.

  7. United States Food & Drug Administration. Food Safety for Infants & Toddlers.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon is a published author and a bullying prevention expert.