A batch of a popular brand of infant milk has been recalled by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) after a strain of bacteria was found in test samples.
In a statement released on Monday (Aug 20), the AVA said it detected the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria in samples of Dumex Mamil Gold Infant Milk Formula - Stage 1 (850g).
The discovery was made through AVA's regular food safety surveillance. The batch of milk formula concerned has Malaysia as the listed country of origin, and expires on Sept 11, 2019. The batch number is 09117R1.
While rare, infections from the bacterium can be fatal for newborns as it can cause meningitis or sepsis. Symptoms include fever, poor feeding or lethargy.
Cronobacter sakazakii is a bacterial species that can survive in dry conditions. This includes dry food like skimmed milk powder, herbal teas, and starches.
The majority of Cronobacter sakazakii cases are adults.
Cronobacter illnesses are rare. But infections are frequently lethal for infants and can be serious among people with immuno-compromising conditions and the elderly.
In infants, Cronobacter usually causes sepsis or severe meningitis. For older children and adults, it can cause wound, urinary tract or bloodstream infections.
Dumex Singapore, in a Facebook post last night, said it was made aware of the possible presence of the bacteria that was detected in two sampled tins.
"As Dumex places high priority on food safety and quality, we have taken immediate precautionary steps to retrieve the specific batch from the shelves and can confirm that it has been completely removed," it added.
"We are working very closely with AVA to look into this matter. To date, there has not been any customer feedback on this issue."
Worried parents took to Dumex Singapore's social media page to express concern over milk they had purchased.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Batch number of the affected Mamil Gold Infant Formula - Stage 1 (850g)
Sept 11, 2019
Expiry date of the affected batch
Call the Dumex hotline if you think you have purchased milk from an affected batch
One parent, who wanted to be identified only as Mrs Wong, said she was "deeply disappointed" as both her sons - a six-month-old infant and a four-year-old toddler - take Mamil Gold. The 34-year-old told The Straits Times: "I'm very concerned about the long-term effect it has on the kids. My (six-month-old) son has taken Stage 1 since he was one month old. We recently changed to Stage 2."
She said she has decided to switch brands.
A spokesman for Danone Dumex, the importer of the product, told The Straits Times that no other products or size variations are affected. "We are currently investigating this issue on a high-priority basis," the spokesman added.
For inquiries on refunds, consumers may contact the Dumex hotline on 1800-265-3188.
AVA advised consumers who have purchased the affected product to avoid consuming it. Parents or caregivers should seek medical assistance if infants feel unwell.
It also advised the public to practise proper hygiene while preparing infant formula, such as washing hands with soap and water before handling items that will be in contact with the infant, ensuring proper sanitation of items meant for feeding infants, and making sure milk formula is prepared in a clean environment and that utensils are clean.
IMMEDIATE ACTION TAKEN
We have taken immediate precautionary steps to retrieve the specific batch from the shelves and can confirm that it has been completely removed. No other products or size variations are affected. We are currently investigating this issue on a high-priority basis.
DANONE DUMEX, in a statement last night.
Dr Leong Choon Kit, a general practitioner at Mission Medical Clinic, said: "The recall shows that the surveillance protocol and programme in place is robust - public confidence in our gatekeeping authority should not be affected by this.
"Parents should check and stop using the batch mentioned. Should they be unsure, it is best to avoid other batches as well."