2nd Abbott milk product possibly contaminated, 9 hospitals used them

MOH has advised all public and private hospitals to cease the use of Abbott Similac Alimentum powdered infant formula (left) and Similac Human Milk Fortifier.
PHOTO: Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Abbott

SINGAPORE - Batches of a product to fortify breast milk that is made by Abbott Laboratories have been recalled by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) due to the possibility of bacterial contamination, making it the second Abbott milk product to be recalled in the past week.

In an update on Wednesday (Feb 23), the SFA said it had directed importer Abbott Laboratories to recall batches of its Similac Human Milk Fortifier sachets, in addition to implicated batches of Abbott Alimentum infant formula that were recalled last week.

The recalls for both products, which potentially contain the Cronobacter sakazakii and salmonella Newport disease-causing pathogens, have since been completed, SFA said.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) also said on Wednesday that it has advised all public and private hospitals in Singapore to stop using the 400g tins of Abbott's Similac Alimentum powdered infant formula and the 0.9g sachets of Similac Human Milk Fortifier, following the recall.

The SFA had earlier said that Cronobacter sakazakii infections are generally rare, but they can cause meningitis, which is inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or sepsis, which is an unusually severe response to an infection.

Symptoms of infection include fever, poor feeding or lethargy.

Meanwhile, salmonella Newport can cause gastrointestinal illness, and those infected may experience fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea.

The batches of Similac Human Milk Fortifier that were recalled are from the United States and have an expiration date of April 1, 2022 or later.

The lot numbers on the containers of the affected batches contain K8, SH or Z2, with first two digits of the code running from 22 to 37.

SFA said parents or caregivers who are concerned should stop using these products.

They should also seek medical assistance should their infants feel unwell after consuming the affected products.

Both Cronobacter sakazakii and salmonella infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Consumers may reach out to Abbott Laboratories on 62786220 or e-mail family.sg@abbott.com for clarifications, SFA added.

MOH said it has also advised all public and private hospitals to be vigilant for cronobacter infection or salmonellosis among infants or young children who may have consumed products affected by the recall.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the extent of use of the implicated products in hospitals, and MOH is working with the hospitals to identify and contact parents and caregivers of patients who may have received the products.

So far, nine hospitals have confirmed that they have used the affected infant formulas, MOH said.

The hospitals are Gleneagles, KK Women's and Children's, Mount Alvernia, Mount Elizabeth , Mount Elizabeth Novena, National University, Raffles, Singapore General and Thomson Medical Centre.

To date, no case of adverse events arising from the consumption of these products has been reported.

MOH said it will continue to monitor the situation closely.

ALSO READ: Contaminated Dumex infant milk used at KKH and NUH between Aug 1 and 20: MOH

The recalls came after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Feb 17 that it was investigating complaints in three US states regarding infant formula produced at an Abbott facility in Michigan.

The complaints involved four infants who fell ill after consuming the formula. All four needed hospitalisation and the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii may have contributed to the death of one, the FDA added.

Recalls of Abbott milk products have also been conducted in other countries, including Canada and Malaysia, with China also warning consumers against buying and eating the products affected by the recalls.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.