New Tests Find Enfamil Baby Formula Safe

Findings come after major retailers pulled the formula from their shelves.

Dec. 25, 2011 — -- New tests found Enfamil infant formula safe, after the death of a 10-day-old Missouri infant caused major retailers to remove cans of the formula from their shelves, the manufacturer said today.

The tests were conducted by Mead Johnson Nutrition, which makes Enfamil and performed an original set of tests before the batch of formula was put on shelves.

"These new results reaffirm the testing conducted before the batch was made available to retailers and consumers. Based on both sets of tests, Mead Johnson can say with confidence that Enfamil Premium Newborn formula, like every infant formula the company produces, is safe," read a statement from the company.

The batch of 12.5-ounce cans of Enfamil Premium Newborn formula, lot number ZP1K7G, came under scrutiny after the infant, identified by other media outlets as Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Mo., had allegedly consumed the formula before he became sick.

Preliminary tests found that he developed a rare infection from Cronobacter sakazakii, a bacteria that has previously been found in powdered infant formula. Thus far, health officials have not confirmed that the formula in question was the source of the baby's infection.

The new test results came after major retailers across the country pulled the formula from their shelves. Following Walmart's footsteps, Supervalu Inc., Walgreen Co., Kroger Co. and Safeway decided to clear their shelves last week of the batch in question.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are removing the formula from certain stores," SuperValu spokesman Mike Siemienas told on Friday. "We will hold these products from sale until we receive additional guidance from regulatory authorities and the manufacturer."

Siemienas said that while the company did not yet have exact figures, he expects that "hundreds of stores" will be affected. Among Supervalu's subsidiary grocery retailers that removed the product from shelves are Shaw's, Shop 'n Save, Jewel-Osco, Acme supermarkets, Farm Fresh, and Albertson's in southern California.

Kroger officials told The Associated Press that the company withdrew the formula from properties in Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico and the mid-Atlantic region.

Walgreen Co. spokesman Jim Cohn confirmed that the company's stores have pulled the formula from store shelves, though he said it was unclear how many stores would be affected under the directive.

"We are awaiting further clarity from the manufacturer and FDA," he said.

Messages left with Safeway were not immediately returned, though a company spokeswoman told the AP Friday that their affected stores were primarily in the Chicago area.

Walmart was the first to act this week when it pulled the formula from the shelves of 3,000 of its stores nationwide.

"This is not a formal government recall. We just did this out of an abundance of caution, and we're currently holding the product until the investigation is complete. The product could possibly be returned to shelves at a later date," a Walmart spokesperson told ABC News Radio on Thursday.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement samples of the formula were sent to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration for testing.

The FDA said so far, they "don't have anything that indicates this is linked to Enfamil." However, the agency is testing samples from the open packet of formula fed to the infant, an unopened packet of the formula and the water used to mix the formula. They expect results by the middle of next week.

Avery is the second infant to develop a Cronobacter sakazakii-related infection in a Missouri hospital in the past month, the department said on its web site. The second infant recovered.

A spokesman for Mead Johnson Nutrition, the manufacturer of Enfamil formulas, said on Thursday that the company routinely tests its formula for Cronobacter.

"The batch of our product used by the child's family tested negative for Cronobacter when it was produced and packaged, and that has been reconfirmed from our batch records following this news," he said.

Cronobacter sakazakii, once known as Enterobacter sakazakii, is a bacteria found in powdered infant formula as well as in plant material and the environment, according to CDC.

In addition to meningitis and bloodstream infections, Cronobacter sakazakii can cause necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition in which the intestinal lining dies off.

Symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis include bloody stool, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and intoleratnce to feeding.

Symptoms of meningitis in infants include high fever, neck and body stiffness, constant crying and seizures.

Additional reporting by ABC News' Brian Hartman and Josh Cohan. Associated Press reports contributed to this report.