Powdered infant formula safe despite recent reports raising concern regarding Cronobacter illness, International Formula Council says

ATLANTA , December 23, 2011 (press release) – Recent media reports have raised interest and concern regarding Cronobacter illness. This rare illness is caused by Cronobacter spp. bacteria that can be found in soil, water and in homes. The bacteria also have been isolated in a wide range of food products. Understandably consumers, especially parents, are seeking more information.

The International Formula Council (IFC) wants to reassure parents and caregivers that powdered infant formula is safe. Because Cronobacter spp. has been detected in many substances, careful preparation and handling of powdered infant formula is strongly recommended to avoid possible contamination.

In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised health professionals that Cronobacter spp. had the potential to cause serious illness in premature and low birth weight infants and those with underlying medical conditions who are fed powdered infant formula that had been prepared inappropriately.

Powdered infant formulas are manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practices and are strictly microbiologically controlled. The products also are manufactured and tested to meet FDA bacteriological standards for infant formula as well as specifications established by the World Health Organization.

Health authorities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following steps be taken in the preparation of infant formula and infant feeding to minimize the risk of Cronobacter spp. and maintain safe feeding practices:

Boil new bottles and nipples for five minutes before using them the first time. Also, wash them for one minute in hot, soapy water after each use.
Wash hands before preparing formula and before feeding the baby to avoid contamination
When opening a can of formula, clean the lid and the can opener of dust or soil.
Follow preparation instructions on the product label to ensure the formula is prepared properly.
Discard previously chilled bottles of formula if left out of a cooler or refrigerator for more than an hour.
Discard any excess liquid in baby bottles to help avoid the growth of bacteria found in baby saliva.
Never feed infant formula that has expired or formula from a dented container.
Never heat infant formula or bottled breast milk in the microwave.
Buy formula only from reputable retailers and not from on-line auctions or flea markets.

The International Formula Council is an association of manufacturers and marketers of formulated nutrition products, e.g., infant formulas and adult nutritionals, whose members are based predominantly in North America. IFC members are: Abbott Nutrition; Mead Johnson Nutrition; Nestle Infant Nutrition; PBM Products, LLC, A Perrigo Company; and Pfizer Nutrition.

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