Walmart has pulled a batch of popular baby formula from its shelves after the tragic death of an infant in Lebanon, Missouri.
Shares in Mead Johnson, the parent company of Enfamil, plummeted following the announcement. Walmart said the measure was due to an “abundance of caution” as the baby’s death is investigated, and reports have emerged that a second child has fallen ill, with baby formula cited as a possible cause. Avery Corbett, the ten-day-old baby who was fatally sickened, was fed Enfamil purchased at a Walmart near the family’s Lebanon home, and contracted the dangerous Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.
The second infant, also in Missouri, was not identified by name, but has reportedly recovered after battling an infection caused by the same bacteria. Mead Johnson spokesman Chris Perille had this to say in a statement after the company began taking a hit in the stock market:
“The family purchased the formula at a Wal-Mart store, and ‘out of an abundance of caution’ Wal-Mart decided to voluntarily ‘pull & hold’ the same size cans (12.5 oz.) of Enfamil Newborn from the same batch code until the investigation is completed.”
“In the case of such a serious illness or death, an exhaustive investigation is undertaken by officials. Since Cronobacter in commonly present in the environment, they will be examining a range of possible environmental sources and engaging in sampling and testing to try to identify the cause. Among numerous things being tested are any formula consumed — which included Enfamil Newborn — the water used to prepare it, etc.”
Bloomberg cites an analyst who commented on the potential for contamination in powdered infant formula:
“Outbreaks of this particular bacteria are typically linked to powdered infant formula, but it is unclear at this point where along the chain the contamination occurred or if the formula is the cause altogether.”
Consumers can return product they’ve not yet used for a full refund or exchange.