IBFAN Baby Food Product Recall List (last updated in April 2018)

Baby formula recalled by Lactalis at a drugstore in Anglet, France, because of potential salmonella contamination.

In December 2017, French baby-milk maker Lactalis was under international scrutiny due to the worldwide recall of all of its products as a result of fears of possible contamination with salmonella. Sparked by 26 cases of children falling sick in France and claims that exposed the company for hiding salmonella outbreak at a plant, the company promised to withdraw products from retail shelves in 83 countries. These contamination outbreaks are nothing new – in fact the WHA resolutions 58.32 [2005] and 61.20 [2008] were adopted in light of the dire need to warn the public of risks of intrinsic contamination caused by pathogenic microorganisms, and the importance of providing information on appropriate preparation methods to minimise health hazards. Many countries are still lagging in implementing these provisions to protect babies and young children.

Packaged baby milk and foods in powder form are not sterile products and can become contaminated by harmful bacteria during the production process. Parents, care-givers and health professionals are aware that the water used to prepare powdered infant and follow-up formulas and cereals may be contaminated by bacteria. But few are aware that bacteria such as Salmonella, Enterobacter/ Cronobacter sakazakii and Bacillus cereus can be introduced during the manufacturing stages of these highly-processed products. These bacteria thrive in warm milk and can multiply rapidly when the powder is mixed with warm water,  causing serious illness in infants and young children. The World Health Organization’s New Safety Advice on ‘How to Prepare Formula for Bottle-Feeding at Home’ warns that extra care must be taken in preparation, storage and handling to reduce the risk of infection. It is important for parents/caretakers to know and practice the *important step (known variously as the lethal, decontamination or killer step) to inactivate as many bacteria as possible in the reconstituted powdered milk (*please refer to instructions outlined in “How to Prepare Formula for Bottle-Feeding at Home”), so as to make them breed and multiply less rapidly in the warm milk, which they thrive on. Industry has been trying to obliterate any reference to this step because the high temperature required to kill off the heat-resistant harmful bacteria also kills off the added probiotic bacteria that are heat-sensitive, and upon which they base their outrageous claims to promote their products.

IBFAN has started compiling a global recall list since 2000. While the new WHO advice only mentions powdered infant formula, the IBFAN recall list shows that other powdered products are also concerned by potential contamination, and thus includes alerts about withdrawals and recalls of other powdered milks and cereal products consumed by older babies. [The most updated recall list (from 2014 to 2019) is available here]

Contamination scandal in China in 2008