Abbott Laboratories, the nation’s largest baby formula production company, is facing over twenty lawsuits for allegedly producing contaminated baby formula that caused severe illness and death to infants who consumed it. The infants’ injuries or deaths resulted from Cronobacter sakazakii infections. The first product recall by Abbott Laboratories was initiated on February 17, 2022, which they described as “proactive and voluntary.” However, Abbott Laboratories waited five months after having knowledge of the first consumer complaint of an alleged Cronobacter-related death to recall these powdered baby formulas in question.
In September of 2021, the Minnesota Health Department reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that an infant who consumed powdered baby formula produced at Abbott’s Sturgis facility died of Cronobacter infection. Four days after receiving the report, the FDA notified Abbott Laboratories of the death and conducted an investigation of the Sturgis facility. The FDA cited Abbott Laboratories with five citations of food-safety regulations, including personnel using improper handwashing measures after the hands may have become soiled or contaminated, improper maintenance of temperature control measures, and other processing failures. The FDA also found Cronobacter present in the Sturgis facility during another visit to the facility.
By January of 2022, the FDA received complaints that two more infants were hospitalized with serious illnesses after consuming powdered formula from Abbott Laboratories’ Sturgis facility. Two of the additional reports were consumer complaints of Cronobacter infections, and one consumer complaint of Salmonella infection. The four cases all resulted in hospitalization, one of which resulted in death.
On February 17, 2022, the FDA formally announced that it was investigating infant illnesses related to products manufactured at Abbott’s Sturgis Facility, which included products by the brand name of Similac, Alimentum, and Elecare, due to alleged complaints of Cronobacter and Salmonella contamination. As a result, the FDA advised consumers to avoid purchasing or using Similac, Alimentum, and Elecare products.
Later that same day, Abbott Laboratories issued a “proactive, voluntary” recall of its Similac, Alimentum, and Elecare products in response to the FDA’s public consumer advisory announcement. This recall announcement included a statement by Abbott Laboratories that evidence of Cronobacter was found in the Sturgis facility’s non-product contact areas. The voluntary recall was later expanded on February 28, 2022, to include an additional lot of specialty formula, Similac PM 60/40, after another possible Cronobacter-related death consumer complaint.
American consumers, especially the families with infants who were injured and/or deceased, are left wondering why it took Abbott Laboratories five months to warn consumers of potential Cronobacter contamination in its products. If the presence of Cronobacter bacteria was present within the facility, as stated by Abbott Laboratories in their product recall, how could the company describe the recall as “proactive and voluntary”?
These are questions that Abbott will have to answer in a slew of civil lawsuits which allege that Abbott Laboratories is liable for the injuries and deaths caused by knowingly producing and selling products contaminated with Cronobacter. The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation recently announced that the several lawsuits filed against Abbott will share a combined, federal proceeding in the Northern District of Illinois. Currently, the MDL includes sixteen civil suits as potential class action lawsuits. The remaining two actions are brought for personal injuries and deaths arising from the use of formulas manufactured at the Sturgis facility. The MDL is likely to grow as Abbott notified the Judicial Panel on August 9th of five more potential cases alleging injury from its contaminated baby formula. Five of the contaminated baby formula cases filed against Abbott involve Texas consumers and the deaths of two Texas infants.
If you fed your infant a recalled Abbott formula (Similac, Alimentum, Elecare, or 60/40), and your infant subsequently developed a severe gastrointestinal infection resulting in injury or death, call the law firm of Abraham Watkins today. It is imperative that you find a law firm to manage your claim as soon as possible following an injury or death of an infant. Further, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that the responsible parties are held fully accountable. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 728-7895 for a consultation.
Per FDA advisory, if your infant is experiencing symptoms related to Cronobacter infection, such as poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice, grunting breaths, or abnormal body movements; contact your health care provider to report their symptoms and receive immediate care.
For more information on Cronobacter and advisories issued by the FDA, visit this link.
To help determine whether your baby formula is included in the recall, visit this link.