Mead Johnson Reports No Bacteria in Enfamil Newborn Powder Formula

Mead Johnson, the maker of Enfamil Newborn Powder formula, says samples of the product it had tested were negative for a bacterium that killed a 10-day-old Missouri infant earlier this month. As we had reported last week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Walgreen Co., Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. had all pulled a batch of Enfamil Newborn powder formula from their shelves, pending an investigation into the baby’s death.

The child, Avery Cornett, died on December 18 after being removed from life support. Preliminary tests indicated Avery had been suffering was Cronobacter sakazakii, a rare bacterial infection. His parents had been feeding him Enfamil Newborn powder purchased at a Lebanon, Missouri Wal-Mart.

As we reported last week, illnesses from Cronobacter sakazakii are rare, with only a few cases reported in infants worldwide each year. It’s extremely dangerous to babies less than one month old and those born premature.

Cronobacter sakazakii can be found in dried milk and powdered formula as well as naturally in the environment and in plants such as wheat and rice. However, Mead Johnson Nutrition had said its records showed the lot of Enfamil powder tested negative for the bacterium before it was shipped to stores.

Now Mead Johnson is reporting that a new round of tests done on its Enfamil Newborn infant formula found no trace of the bacterium, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company said it tested the same samples and followed the same methodology used by public health officials.

Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating Avery’s death, and have obtained samples of the formula for testing. However, those results won’t be available until next week. The agencies’ review will also include sampling of water used to make the formula Avery was fed, as well as other environmental tests.

A second Missouri infant in became sick last month after consuming several different types of powdered baby formula, but has since recovered. Health officials do not believe there is any connection between that case, and Avery’s death.

Health officials are reminding parents to use care when preparing infant formula:

  • • Wash hands thoroughly
  • • Sterilize bottles and other feeding equipment
  • • Prepare only enough formula for a single feeding.

It is also important to remember that the bacterium can grow over time if it is already present in formula. Holding onto mixed formula for more than one feeding could increase the chance of infection.

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