An infant formula recalled for possible bacterial contamination was still being distributed to retailers in eight states after the recall began, according to a press release released this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In March, Perrigo Co. conducted a voluntary recall of certain lots of its Gerber Good Start SootheProTM powdered infant formula “out of great caution” due to the possible presence of Cronobacter sakazakii, a germ that can cause serious or fatal infections in infants.
The recall affected the Gerber Good Start formula manufactured at Perrigo’s Gateway Eau Claire, Wisconsin between January 2nd and 18th. According to a March 17 recall notice, the recalled formula was sold in three different sizes at retailers across the country.
However, cooperative grocery wholesaler Associated Wholesale Grocers distributed the 12.4-ounce version of the recalled product to its Nashville division retailers after Perrigo’s initial recall notice was issued.
As a result, the recalled product was distributed to supermarkets in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, Associated Wholesale Grocers said Saturday.
The wholesaler is urging consumers who purchased the Gerber Good Start formula at affected locations to review their products. The recalled formula that has been sold past the start of the recall can be identified by its lot codes and expiration dates – these range from July 4, 2024 to July 12, 2024.
“Any consumer who has purchased product with matching codes should discontinue use and discard the product,” Associated Wholesale Grocers’ Saturday statement said, adding that consumers can request a refund by signing up on behalf from Perrigo to the Gerber Parent Resource Center.
In a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Perrigo said the company had notified all customers at the time of the recall in March. Associated Wholesale Grocers’ Saturday announcement, which identifies Perrigo as a customer, “is not directly related to Perrigo and has no impact on the business,” Perrigo said.
The company also claimed that the March recall was initiated “out of great caution” – adding that “the bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii has not been found in any product offered for sale and no adverse events have been reported.”
The Associated Press also reached out to Associated Wholesale Grocers Tuesday morning for further comment.
Infections from Cronobacter sakazakii are rare but can be life-threatening for newborns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes — noting that the bacteria can cause sepsis and meningitis.
Cronobacter sakazakii was the same germ that triggered Abbott Nutrition’s recall and led to a nationwide shortage of powdered infant formula last year. According to the FDA and CDC, Cronobacter sakazkii occurs naturally in the environment and “survives particularly well” in dry foods, such as infant formula, that can become contaminated at home or in processing plants.
The bacteria can also live on house surfaces and other feeding equipment. Experts emphasize the importance of taking everyday hygiene measures for safety.
“There are steps people can take to prevent infection,” said Dr. Julia Haston, CDC expert on pediatric infectious diseases, previously told The Associated Press — including thoroughly washing, sanitizing, and drying hands, equipment, and all surfaces before feeding a baby.