Nutrition product maker Reckitt is voluntarily recalling 145,000 cans of baby formula “out of an abundance of caution” due to possible cross-contamination with the potentially deadly bacteria, Cronobacter sakazakii.
In a notice on Feb. 19, the British consumer goods company said it is recalling select batches of ProSobee 12.9 oz. Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula as a precautionary measure after samples tested negative for contaminants.
ProSobee Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula in 12.9 oz containers was manufactured between August 2022 and September 2022 and distributed through retail stores nationwide in the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Consumers can identify the batches in question by looking for the number on the bottom of the can.
Recalled product batches have the codes ZL2HZF and ZL2HZZ both with a UPC Code of 300871214415 and have a use-by date of March. 1, 2024.
Consumers who have the impacted products are asked to dispose of them immediately or return them to the place they were purchased to receive a total refund.
To date, there have been no reported illnesses or adverse consumer reactions from the impacted products, according to Reckitt.
No other ProSobee Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula batches or other Reckitt products are impacted by the voluntary recall, according to the manufacturer.
Cronobacter sakazakii is a germ found naturally in the environment that can live in various dry foods, such as powdered infant formula and powdered milk as well as in various starches and herbal teas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While Cronobacter infections are rare, they can cause severe, life-threatening infections such as sepsis or meningitis in infants, particularly those who are born prematurely or who have weakened immune systems.
Symptoms in infants usually begin with a fever and a lack of hunger along with excessive crying, or very low energy, according to the CDC. In some cases, infants may have seizures.
Infants can become infected with Cronobacter sakazakii if powdered infant formula is contaminated in the processing facilities that make it or in homes, if formula lids or scoops are placed on contaminated surfaces, such as kitchen counters or and then placed back inside the formula.
The CDC receives reports of about 2 to 4 cases of Cronobacter illness in infants annually, although the agency says that the actual figure may be higher.
Nearly all of the Cronobacter sakazakii cases reported in the United States have been linked to powdered baby formulas.
Last year, Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories, one of the four major U.S. formula manufacturers, recalled all of its products that were made at its Michigan plant after reports of Cronobacter sakazakii, triggering a monthslong shortage of baby formula.
CDC agents subsequently investigated the bacterial infections that were potentially linked to the contamination, and which led to several deaths, but were unable to determine if there was a definitive connection between the illnesses and Abbott’s products.
Abbott maintains that none of the baby formula it distributed tested positive for Cronobacter.
“We are committed to the highest level of quality and safety and it is for this reason that we have taken this extraordinary measure,” Reckitt said on Sunday.
“The batches in question tested negative for Cronobacter and other bacteria and this is an isolated situation. After a thorough investigation, we have identified the root cause, which was linked to a material from a third party. We have taken all appropriate corrective actions, including no longer sourcing this material from the supplier.”
Reckitt added that “the health and safety of infants is our highest priority” and that its products “undergo rigorous and industry-leading quality tests and checks to ensure that they meet or exceed all standards set by regulatory bodies” including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.