Health Inspectors Visit Enfamil Baby Formula Factory As Part Of Investigation Into Bacterial Infections

As part of an ongoing investigation into bacterial infections of Cronobacter that killed an infant last week, U.S. health inspectors visited an Enfamil baby formula factory run by Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., the makers of the formula in question.

Reuters says the visit is standard procedure by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a Mead Johnson spokesman. The company performed its own tests and say they found no Cronobacter bacterium.

“Because Cronobacter is so commonly present throughout the environment, we expect they are looking at a large number of other possible sources — water, clothing, bedding, preparation and use surfaces,” said Mead Johnson spokesman Chris Perille.

“This is standard operating procedure for them, and we would expect that they have also had inspectors visit production facilities for various other products/items they are testing as part of this investigation,” he added.

Rival formula makers say they haven’t been visited by health inspectors. Wal-Mart and other stores pulled one certain lot of 12.5-ounce cans of Enfamil Newborn after a 10-day-old baby died in Missouri. Another child, who was exposed to various brands of formula, became sick from Cronobacter as well.

Previously: Walmart Pulls Baby Formula From Shelves As Precaution Following Death Of Newborn

Mead Johnson confirms FDA visits in Enfamil probe [Reuters]

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  1. pk says:

    Queue the bickering about breast feeding in 3..2…1..

    • Costner says:

      Until they prove formula was actually responsible for the issue, I suspect it is a bit premature for people to whine about either option.

      Besides – there are risks with either choice, and some women don’t have a choice because they simply cannot breastfeed. There are also issues with substances the mother could injest such as prescription drugs, antibiotics, or even too much fish etc.

      There is no perfect solution for everyone, which is why we have options.

      • Bort says:

        i’m not taking sides, just pointing out that formula doesn’t exist to provide options, it exists to make profit

        • Costner says:

          And without formula women who can’t breastfeed would do what exactly?

          Oh but of course anyone who develops a product is merely in it for the money. Damn capatilistic greedy 1%ers am i rite?

          • Bort says:

            again, not taking sides, i’m just pointing out that its an industrial product like any other
            if you are more interested in money at the expense of infant safety, then i assume you can agree there is a problem
            if the formula was not the cause of the infants death, then the formula maker is not responsible

        • Snoofin says:

          I agree. We didnt have formula 50 years ago and people breast fed just fine. For the very small amount of women who were unable to make milk, I guess they got milk from another mother or something. Most of the time formula is for lazy people who dont want to breast feed. Also you can use a breast pump to get milk and save it for a time when the baby is hungry if you dont want to breast feed at certain times of the day.

          • Costner says:

            “Most of the time formula is for lazy people who dont want to breast feed.”

            Holy… that is the most ignorant statement I’ve read on Consumerist all week, and serves as evidence that you have never been around a newborn, a new mother, or anything related to either.

            First of all genius, 50 years ago most families had only one working parent, and it was typically the male. Mothers stayed home to raise the kids so they were able to breastfeed much easier. These days, most families can’t survive on one income so the mother has to work along with the father. This means she isn’t available to breastfeed and as such has to try to pump if she wishes to use breast milk. Notice I said “try” because pumping doesn’t work for every woman and there are issues (not to mention the hassle and risk of milk spoilage or the fact that no all careers offer a place to pump or a place to store the milk).

            We also know a lot more about how chemicals can transfer from the mother to the infant via breast milk, thus if a woman is on antibiotics or if she consumes alcohol, we know that can be transferred. We didn’t know these things 50 years ago, so often times women were feeding their babies without understanding the potentialy consequences.

            These days women who do want to breastfeed might not be able to do to a medical condition that requires a prescription. Some women just can’t breastfeed even if they want to, and some women dry up and are unable to produce enough to feed their babies. This becomes an even greater issue with multiple births, because trying to feed twins or triplets is obviously much more difficult and often times the woman’s output is insufficient.

            So no – people who use formula are not lazy… not even most of them. Very few people choose formula because they are “lazy”, but rather for convenience sake, for consistency sake, and for any number of other reasons.

          • MMD says:

            Aside from the other response that completely tears apart your baseless claims (well-played, Costner), I’ll point out that a woman’s choice to use formula or not is none of your damn business.

          • jeni1122 says:

            My mother had a severe infection in her breasts after giving birth to me. Their were ways of obtaining milk from other lactating mothers, but the service was very costly and she would have never been able to afford it. Her only option was formula.

            Besides the infection, she was on medication that would have been transferred to me if she was breast feeding (which could have been fatal) and she really needed to be on that medication. She decided to stay off of the medication during her pregnancy and she almost died because of it.

            If it wasn’t for formula I would probably not be around right now.

          • Potted-Plant says:

            I’ve breastfed all of my children and am glad I did it, but accusing mothers of laziness because they don’t is just plain wrong. Motherhood is hard enough without coming down on each other for making different choices. Lighten up.

            And 50 years ago the infant mortality rate was higher, due in part to malnutrition.

        • MMD says:

          That’s not taking a side? Really?

      • MMD says:

        Premature, yes. However, that won’t stop the knee-jerk reactions and the vilification of either the formula manufacturers or mothers who use formula. This is Consumerist, after all.

  2. msbask says:

    Didn’t I just read that it was *not* a bacteria that killed the baby?

    • Shrew2u says:

      Yes, and I read it, too – from Huffpo:

      “Update: An announcement on December 25 by Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. revealed the latest round of tests found no trace of the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii, which was tied to the death of Avery Cornett, the LA Women’s Health Examiner reports. Reuters also reports a third infant in the U.S. has tested positive for the same infection that killed Cornett, but had not consumed the Enfamil formula. The infant has since been treated and discharged from the hospital.”

  3. Nyall says:

    Thanks consumerist.
    Please let me know when they send some samples to the lab.

  4. SecretAgentWoman says:

    Breastfeeding is safest, yes.

    But I doubt it is the formula in any of these cases.

    • MMD says:

      Based on what information, exactly?

      Are you conducting the investigation?

      Are you a scientist? Or a doctor? Have you examined any evidence firsthand?

      How about we let the investigation play out before we decide who’s at fault here?

    • Potted-Plant says:

      I agree. Whenever there’s a nasty bacteria floating around, check the water supply. Something as simple as a stalled sanitary lift station can cause big problems. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but water-bourne pathogens are a major cause of infant mortality and that base should be covered.

  5. Shrew2u says:

    Not all formula-fed babies have a lazy mother. If my ex-SIL had continued to breast-feed her daughter, her daughter would be dead by now. PKU and breast feeding don’t mix, you see. Instead, my 16-year-old neice was fed low-phenylalanine formula and is a healthy young woman now instead of a corpse.

    I also have a friend who was born in Chile about 50 years ago; her father spent most of his monthly earnings on American-made formula during her first year, because her mother couldn’t produce enough milk to feed her adequately. My friend was literally skin and bones by the time her mother agreed to supplement with formula.

    I wish I could have formula-fed my youngest child, but he refused the bottle (even with breast milk in it). At 2, he’s smart as a whip but light as a feather and small of stature; we may have to start him on growth hormones if his pediatrician recommends it. Meanwhile, his sisters are of average height and weight, primarily breastfed for 22 months apiece but given formula to supplement when my milk was low or I was on a medicine that precluded breast feeding.

  6. coffee100 says:

    It’s news that health inspectors visited a baby formula factory?

  7. Hugh says:

    Reminds me of the tainted tomatoes recently. As it turns out FDA didn’t know exactly what caused the e coli outbreak, but believed (it turns out) that it may have come from Bell Peppers. The tomatoe industry still hasn’t recuperated from that one. Enfamil may not either. What ya say? FDA!