(NEW YORK) — Four more major retailers are following Walmart’s example by removing cans of infant formula from their shelves in light of the death of a 10-day-old Missouri infant from what early tests indicate was a bacterial infection.
Supervalu Inc., Walgreen Co., Kroger Co. and Safeway have decided to clear their shelves of 12.5 ounce cans of Enfamil Premium Newborn formula, lot number ZP1K7G. The batch has come under scrutiny after the infant, identified by other media outlets as Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Mo., had allegedly consumed the formula before he became sick.
Preliminary tests show he developed a rare infection from Cronobacter sakazakii, a bacteria that has previously been found in powdered infant formula. Thus far, health officials have not confirmed that the formula in question was the source of the baby’s infection.
SuperValu spokesman Mike Siemienas said that while the company did not yet have exact figures, he expects that “hundreds of stores” will be affected, and that the formula was removed from shelves as a precautionary measure. Among Supervalu’s subsidiary grocery retailers that removed the product from shelves are Shaw’s, Shop ‘n Save, Jewel-Osco, Acme supermarkets, Farm Fresh, and Albertson’s in southern California.
Walgreen Co. spokesman Jim Cohn confirmed that the company’s stores have pulled the formula from store shelves, though he said it was unclear how many stores would be affected under the directive. “
Walmart was the first to act this week when it pulled the formula from the shelves of 3,000 of its stores nationwide.
“This is not a formal government recall. We just did this out of an abundance of caution, and we’re currently holding the product until the investigation is complete. The product could possibly be returned to shelves at a later date,” a Walmart spokesperson told ABC News Radio on Thursday.
Health officials say customers who purchased the formula should discard it or return it to the store.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement samples of the formula were sent to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration for testing.
The FDA said so far, they “don’t have anything that indicates this is linked to Enfamil.” However, the agency is testing samples from the open packet of formula fed to the infant, an unopened packet of the formula and the water used to mix the formula. They expect results by the middle of next week.
Avery is the second infant to develop a Cronobacter sakazakii-related infection in a Missouri hospital in the past month, the department said on its web site. The second infant recovered.
A spokesman for Mead Johnson Nutrition, the manufacturer of Enfamil formulas, said that the company routinely tests its formula for Cronobacter.
Cronobacter sakazakii, once known as Enterobacter sakazakii, is a bacteria found in powdered infant formula as well as in plant material and the environment, according to CDC.
Newborns are at highest risk for serious illness from the bacteria, which can cause meningitis and bloodstream infections. The fatality rate in infants is very high.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Ariane de Vogue and Dan Berman, CNN
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News