Posted On March 8, 2022 Product Liability and Class Action News
Earlier this year, Abbott Laboratories, Inc. (“Abbott Labs”) announced a recall of certain baby food products based on reports that infants were developing serious bacterial infections. Through two rounds of recalls, Abbott Labs recalled certain lots of three of the company’s popular baby formulas: Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, and Similac PM 60/40. If you are a parent of a child who consumed baby formula manufactured by Abbott Labs, it is essential that you review the product recall information below. The personal injury law firm of Console & Associates P.C. is actively investigating the Abbott Labs baby formula recall. We are currently receiving many calls from upset parents whose children were impacted by the contaminated formula, and we are advising them of their legal options. If evidence emerges that Abbott Laboratories knew of the hazards its product presented to infants, the company may be liable for any resulting damages, including the hospitalization and death of an infant.
In response to customer complaints about infants developing rare and otherwise unexplainable infections, such as Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport, the Food and Drug Administration advised parents not to buy certain Abbott Labs baby formula. Immediately after that public announcement, on February 17, 2022, Abbott Labs issued a voluntary baby formula recall. The first recall was limited to certain powder formulas, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. All of these products were manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. The recall includes all the above brands, with an expiration date of April 1, 2022, or later.
Subsequently, Abbott Laboratories was notified that an infant died after contracting a Cronobacter sakazakii infection. It was later determined that the infant had consumed Similac PM 60/40, which was not among the formulas initially recalled. Thus, on February 28, 2022, Abbott Labs issued a second round of baby formula recalls. The second recall pertains to the brand Similac PM 60/40. However, unlike the previous recall, this one was limited to a single lot: Similac PM 60/40 Lot # 27032K80 (can) and Lot # 27032K800 (case).
Parents who purchased Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, and Similac PM 60/40 certainly had other options for their children. Many of these options were less expensive than Abbott Laboratories’ products. However, by purchasing from a well-known company such as Abbott Labs, parents understandably assumed they were buying the best product for their child.
Children who consumed Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, or Similac PM 60/40 may be at serious risk. Below are some common questions you may have about the Similac recall, Alimentum recall, EleCare recall and Similac PM 60/40 recall.
There have been reports that infants who consumed Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, or Similac PM 60/40 powdered baby formulas have developed life-threatening bacterial infections. These infections are Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport.
Cronobacter sakazakii is a bacteria that exists naturally in our environment. It is most commonly found in powdered infant formulas, herbal teas and certain types of starches.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Powdered infant formula is not sterile. Manufacturers report that, using current methods, it is not possible to produce sterile powdered infant formula. At the factory, Cronobacter could get into formula powder if contaminated raw materials are used to make the formula, or if the formula powder touches a contaminated surface in the manufacturing environment.
Powdered infant formula can also be contaminated at home or elsewhere after the container is opened. For example, Cronobacter could get into the formula if formula lids or scoops are placed on contaminated surfaces and later touch the formula, or if the formula is mixed with contaminated water or in a contaminated bottle.
For healthy adults, exposure to Cronobacter sakazakii will likely result in diarrhea and urinary tract infections; however, exposure is much more serious in infants. For example, infants who are exposed to Cronobacter sakazakii can develop sepsis (a serious blood infection) or meningitis (swelling of the tissues surrounding the brain).
Fever is usually the first symptom of Cronobacter sakazakii. The Food and Drug Administration reports that other symptoms that may indicate an infant is experiencing sepsis or meningitis include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes), grunting breaths and abnormal movements. In some situations, Cronobacter infection may also result in bowel damage.
Salmonella Newport is one type of Salmonella, a bacteria most often associated with eggs and poultry products. Exposure to Salmonella Newport can result in salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is much more common than Cronobacter sakazakii, as there are more than 1.35 million cases of Salmonellosis per year.
In healthy adults, salmonellosis causes diarrhea, stomach pains, and fever. However, infants are at a much higher risk of developing a more serious condition. According to the FDA, “severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases, may become fatal.”
The recently announced Abbott Labs baby formula recall is still new, and details about the company’s knowledge are still emerging. However, there does appear to be some evidence indicating that there was at least one previous instance where a child developed Cronobacter sakazakii after consuming baby formula manufactured by Abbott Labs.
More specifically, back in September 2021, the Minnesota Department of Health investigated a case of an infant who was sickened by Cronobacter sakazakii. Health officials learned that the infant had consumed formula produced by Abbott Labs and communicated this information with the FDA and CDC. In response, the FDA organized an inspection of the Abbott Nutrition facility where the baby formula was made. Following the inspection, investigators issued five citations to Abbott Nutrition, including those for “improper maintenance of a building used to produce and package infant formula and inadequate handwashing.” There was also evidence suggesting that the FDA identified the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii in a previous inspection of the company’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.
Perhaps what’s more shocking is the fact that, based on the FDA investigators’ review of internal documents, Abbott Laboratories may have previously destroyed infant formula in connection with the contamination issue. Whether this was an attempt to cover up contaminated baby formula remains to be seen; however, it is a possibility.
Yes. Under the body of law referred to as product liability, manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe for their intended use. In fact, in most cases, someone who is injured as a result of a dangerous or defective product, such as contaminated baby formula, does not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. This is because manufacturers are held strictly liable for any harm caused by their products.
However, if a company knows that its products are dangerous but continues to sell them, it can open the door to punitive damages. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, which are intended to compensate a consumer for their injuries, punitive damages are those focused on punishing a manufacturer’s conduct. Historically, punitive damages awards, when appropriate, are significant.
Yes, there is currently a class action lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories based on the company’s marketing and selling of what it knew to be a dangerous product. Evidence has come out that Abbott Labs knew about the dangers its baby formula presented nearly five months before it issued a recall.
Two infants who consumed Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, or Similac PM 60/40 have died due to Cronobacter sakazakii infections. However, at this point, the infants’ death is still under investigation, as it has not been conclusively determined that their consumption of Abbott Labs formula caused or contributed to their deaths. In addition, several other parents have reported that their children became ill after consuming Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, or Similac PM 60/40
Abbott Laboratories is a multinational company that manufactures and sells a wide range of healthcare products and medical devices. The company was founded in 1888; however, in 1903, the company created the Abbott Nutrition branch. Abbott Nutrition creates a wide range of baby food and baby products, including the brands EleCare, Similac, Pedialyte, and PediaSure. Abbott Nutrition also manufactures nutrient-dense products for adults through the brands Ensure, Glucerna, Nepro, Jevity and ZonePerfect.
If your baby became ill after consuming Similac, Alimentum, EleCare, or Similac PM 60/40, it may be because the formula contained harmful bacteria. At Console & Associates, P.C., our dedicated product liability and personal injury attorneys are looking into the allegations and investigating parents’ claims. We can help you determine if you have grounds to bring a Similac lawsuit, EleCare lawsuit, or Alimentum lawsuit based on the specific facts of your case. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients and will never pressure you to bring a case; we only want to inform you of your options so you can make the best decision for yourself and your family. If you decide to move forward with a baby formula class action lawsuit, we only get paid if you do. If your claim is successful, any legal fees will either be paid by the defendant or come out of the funds we recover. If your claim doesn’t result in a recovery, you will pay nothing.