French parents outraged at lack of information about contaminated infant formulas.


    Two more baby deaths have been reported related to contaminated powdered infant formula. The deaths, which occurred in France, prompted the recall in December 2004 of Pregestimil, a "modified" powdered infant formula manufactured by Mead Johnson. Four cases of severe infection were diagnosed of which two infants died and five additional cases of digestive illness as caused by Enterobacter sakazakii were also identified. Eight of the infants had been fed Pregestimil.


    Mead Johnson denied the presence of the lethal bacteria in the Pregestimil, stating that all their tests had come back negative, however the French Ministry of Health noted that the three batches being recalled "are very probably contaminated by the bacteria…at the level of epidemiology, this contamination leaves little doubt." Furthermore, the Ministry noted that Enterobacter sakazakii is highly heat resistant and, and that if a bottle is prepared ahead of time, then the few bacteria present in the warm water will multiply at great speed, reaching the number of 90 million in the space of three hours."


    Parents using the Pregestimil formulas were outraged that they had not been warned about contamination risks. Most found out about the recall through reading newspapers or television reports. Mothers were quoted as saying (translated), "No information was given to us." Others, "Our 2 girls, 2 years and 6 months, are on Pregestimil and have not been in good health for the last couple of days, especially the eldest had bad nights. But worse: this evening (12/12/04) the little one of 6 months had a bad fever and was brought  to the Brest Hospital." Yet another noted, "It is completely abnormal to learn this kind of information from the television. In addition I called the free telephone number where they only said it was simply intolerance to Pregestimil."


    INFACT Canada, together with our IBFAN partners, has been actively seeking warnings on labels of powdered infant formulas stating in clear and conspicuous text that powdered infant formulas are not sterile and may be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness or even death. Parents have the right to and the need for this critical information.


    As a precautionary measure Pregestimil was recalled by Mead Johnson from all its international markets. However, we noted that up to the end of December there was still no information about the recall on the Mead Johnson website, only continuous advertising.


Newspaper warning in Algeria

regarding French infant deaths

caused by contaminated

Pregestimil powdered formula



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