As a lactation consultant, parents often ask me which infant formula is the best. I tell them that formula sold in the US must meet requirements set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and one is really no better than another. Staying on top of recalls can help allay any fears parents may have about the formula they’re using.
While the FDA doesn’t approve specific formulas, companies that manufacture infant formula must meet standards set forth by the FDA. Infant formula must support normal physical growth, contain specific nutrients and meet the FDA requirements for safe manufacturing.
In spite of all these rigorous laws and regulations, there are still regular instances when infant formula is recalled due to health and safety concerns.
In June of this year, a Parent’s Choice formula was recalled because metal was found in the product. This formula is made by Perrigo and sold exclusively at Walmart. Perrigo said while there were no reported injuries, they were issuing the recall “out of an abundance of caution.”
This was not an isolated incidence. Currently, the FDA lists the recall of Calcilo XD formula, a specialized formula made by Abbot Labs for children who suffer from hypercalcemia. Abbot also makes the more popularly known, Similac brand formulas.
Calcilo XD formula was recalled due to “an inconsistency in aroma and color.” The company said it made the move “out of an abundance of caution.” They identified the specific batch that was affected.
Last year, CVS removed Enfamil powdered formula from its shelves for a period of time after a customer reported finding evidence of tampering with the can of formula she’d purchased. The formula had been replaced with baking flour.
Some US parents import formula from other countries because they believe they’re getting a superior product. These formulas will not be under the rules and regulations of the FDA.
In late 2017, there was a widespread recall of a formula made by Lactalis in France. The reason for the recall was Salmonella contamination, and over three dozen children became ill as a result. It was almost a year until Lactalis was authorized to sell its product again.
The FDA has required testing for Salmonella and Chronobacter.
Similac recalled millions of cans of formula in 2010 due to the discovery of beetles in containers produced at their Sturgis, Michigan plant. While parents were reassured the contamination shouldn’t cause any long-term health problems, they were advised that the insect parts could irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and cause GI discomfort and trigger a refusal to eat.
When an infant formula is recalled it is widely reported on a variety of news outlets and other sources. If you want to be proactive, find out if your child’s formula has been recalled on the FDA “Recalls, Market Withdrawals & Safety Alerts” page. You can also sign up for notification of recalls on the same page.
If you find evidence of contamination in any formula you should contact the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).