FDA: No Need to Recall Baby Formula After Infants Sickened
LEBANON, Mo. (KTLA) -- Health officials released a report Friday saying a baby formula that recently infected three infants, killing two, was safe enough to stay on the shelves.

In the past few weeks, three babies in Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois have tested positive for Cronobacter, a bacteria that has sometimes been linked to rare illnesses in newborns and has been found in milk-based powdered baby formula, said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Friday said tests of sealed cans of Enfamil proved there was no trace of the deadly bacteria that came under fire after the illnesses.

"Parents may continue to use powdered infant formula, following the manufacturer's directions on the printed label," the agencies said in a joint statement.

The report said Cronobacter was found in an open container of infant formula, an open bottle of nursery water and prepared infant formula.

"There is currently no evidence to conclude that the infant formula or nursery water was contaminated during manufacturing or shipping," said an FDA spokesman."

The findings basically clear Enfamil maker Mead Johnson, whose shares have fallen 10 percent since the issue surfaced, said personal injury and product liability lawyer William Marler of the firm Marler Clark.

Mead Johnson Nutrition said two tests of samples of its Enfamil Premium Newborn formula, taken from the same lot as the formula given to one of the deceased babies, found no sign of the bacteria, known as Cronobacter sakazakii.

"We're pleased with the FDA and CDC testing, which should reassure consumers, healthcare professionals and retailers everywhere about the safety and quality of our products," Tim Brown, Mead Johnson's general manager for North America, said.

The baby in Oklahoma had not consumed Mead Johnson Nutrition Co's Enfamil formula, according to Leslea Bennett-Webb of the Oklahoma Department of Health.

Enfamil was given to a Missouri newborn who has died and another baby now recovering in Illinois, both were confirmed to have been infected with Cronobacter.

The Missouri case prompted retail giant Walmart to pull all cans of the same size and lot number from its shelves last week.

Another newborn baby was sickened in Illinois but is recovering from the infection, according to the state health department.

"These new results reaffirm the testing conducted before the batch was made available to retailers and consumers," the company said in a written statement on the results.

The Centers for Disease Control says the bacteria sickens four to six people a year.

The agencies are reviewing information about each newborn, including what they ate and where they were, in an effort to trace the sources of the infections.

Cronobacter can cause life-threatening infections in newborns.

It's fatal in nearly 40% of cases, according to the CDC, and some of those who survive can be left with severe neurological problems.