Walmart recalled a batch of Enfamil infant formula from 3,000 of its stores after the death of a 10-day old newborn in Missourri, apparently caused by a rare bacterial contamination. Not only is this story a mother’s worst nightmare; it’s also a horrifying sign that Americans need to seriously reconsider whether it’s safe to eat so much processed food.
The formula was given to 10-day-old Avery Cornett, who was taken to a hospital last Wednesday after showing signs of a stomach ache and lethargy. He was transferred to another hospital, where they found he’d contracted a rare bacterial infection, Cronobacter sakazakii, and was taken off life support on Monday. Gena Terlizzi, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said yesterday that samples of the baby formula were sent to the FDA and CDC for testing, but it’s unclear whether the baby formula actually caused his death as of yet:
At this point it has not been determined whether the illness is linked to the formula or an outside source.
But Walmart isn’t going to take the gamble; the government hasn’t ordered a recall, but they decided to take the cautionary measure in case of contamination. Christopher Perille, a spokesman for Mead Johnson Nutrition, the producers of Enfamil, said the company routinely tests their formula for various contamination, including the bacteria that killed Avery:
One of the things every batch of product is tested for is Cronobacter. We went back and checked on the batch in question, and it had tested negative for Cronobacter.
Any food can get contaminated with bacteria; even vegetables from your backyard. But so much of the current public health concern revolves around factory farming processes and the mass production of processed food; it seems obvious that the risk of contamination and food-borne illness is much worse with the way we currently process, package, and ship food around our country. While it’s unclear what caused Avery’s death, it seems to me like yet another good reason to be wary of processed food.