Two US infant formula products have been recalled by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) due to the possible presence of salmonella and cronobacter sakazakii.
Manufacturer Abbott is recalling specific batches of its EleCare Similac and Alimentum Similac products following the possible contamination.
Both products are foods used for special medical purposes for Irish infants, however, they are ordinarily used under medical supervision.
The batches which may be contaminated with the bacteria have also been recalled in the US, the UK and Canada.
The FSAI has warned that salmonella and cronobacter sakazakii can cause illness in infants if they are present in the powdered infant formula. However, the authority said no products distributed to Ireland have tested positive for the presence of the bacteria yet.
While the two bacteria cannot grow in powdered infant formula, they can survive for a long period of time and therefore, pose a potential risk after rehydration, says the FSAI.
In a recall statement, the FSAI said side effects following contamination can involve “severe disease” in infants such as diarrhoea, fever, sepsis or meningitis which can lead to serious neurological and developmental issues and can be fatal on rare occasions.
Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, caterers and retailers are requested to remove the implicated batches from sale
Sepsis and meningitis may include symptoms such as poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes) and abnormal breaths and movements.
Among infants, those at greatest risk for infection are neonates, younger than 28 days of age and particularly pre-term, low-birthweight or immuno-compromised infants.
Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, caterers and retailers are requested to remove the implicated batches from sale and to display a point-of-sale recall notice in stores where the affected batches were sold.
More information on the infant formula batches involved can be found on the FSAI website.
Meanwhile, president Michael D Higgins has criticised what he described as the “manipulative” marketing of infant formula.
Speaking alongside his wife Sabina, he said the issue of “intense and manipulative marketing around the use of formula milk for babies” is an issue of “great concern”.
The Áras welcomed a report on how marketing influences decision making on infant formula which was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday.
President Higgins said breastfeeding is a basic component of sustainability and that infant formula advertising seeks to confuse this with slogans on “follow-on” products that are in reality, contradictory to what breastfeeding principles envisage or stand for.
Ireland exported infant formula worth almost €682m in 2021, according to Bord Bia. The figure represents a €214m decrease in value on the €896m exported in 2020.
However, overall, the dairy product remains the third-highest-value export for the dairy sector, after cheese and butter.