Reckitt recalls ProSobee infant formula cans over cross-contamination fears
20 Feb 2023 --- Nutrition and health products producer Reckitt has announced a recall of two batches – 145,000 cans – of its ProSobee 12.9 oz Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula due to “a possibility of cross-contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii,” says the business. The recalled products can be found on the shelves in mainland US, as well as in Guam and Puerto Rico.
According to the company, all products distributed went through extensive testing, tested negative for the bacteria and no illnesses or adverse events have been reported.
However, it has chosen to recall the products out of “an abundance of caution.”
The products recalled have a “Use by date” of March 1, 2024.”
The batch codes for the recalled cans are ZL2HZF and ZL2HZZ, both with a Universal Product Code (UPC) Code of 300871214415 and the mentioned use-by date of “1 Mar 2024.”
The company calls for the products to be disposed of or returned to the place of purchase for a total refund.
Cronobacter bacteria has been previously found in dry foods, like powdered milk, instant formula, herbal teas and starches, according to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine). Symptoms of sepsis and meningitis may include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellowed skin and whites of the eyes), grunting breaths and abnormal movements.
Cronobacter infection may also cause bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other body parts,” explains the US Federal and Drugs Administration.
In 2022, the FDA investigated the deaths of two babies linked to Abbot infant formula consumption due to Cronobacter sakazakii.
Abbott is now under investigation by the US DOJ department following the infant deaths – which, furthermore, lead to an unprecedented infant formula shortage.
Infant formula shortage timeline
Abbott produces Similac, reportedly the most popular formula brand in the US. In February, due to the infant deaths and a damning investigation from the FDA, the company voluntarily ceased production at this facility as well as issued a voluntary recall of certain products.
The FDA found Abbott failed to ensure that all surfaces in contact with infant formula were maintained to protect the product from being contaminated by any source. More FDA findings disclosed personnel working directly with infant formula, its raw materials, packaging or equipment or utensil contact surfaces did not wear any protective apparel.
The formula market is dominated by four players – Abbott, Reckitt, Perrigo and Nestlé – when Abbott’s plant closed, it immediately led to a months-long shortage.
The shortage forced the US government to engage in emergency actions through Operation Fly Formula, in which the nation imported infant formula – even via military planes – to meet consumer needs.
Longer-term solutions, like the FDA working to broaden and open the market to international players, also arose during the crisis.
However, the FDA itself has come into question, as the body flagged – in an internal report – urgent needs to improve due to management errors during the crisis. The authorities highlight they lack “specific authorities and resources.” The chaotic year for the health authorities raised calls – by some experts – for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to centralize the food administration and federal food and health policy under the USDA.
The formula shortage impacts still linger; according to the latest data US Census Bureau – collected from January 4 to January 16 – 31.04% of infant formula buyers reported having difficulty obtaining infant formula in the last seven days.
By Marc Cervera
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