AVA recalls batch of Dumex milk formula after detecting bacteria harmful to infants

In a statement on Aug 20, 2018, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said it detected Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria in samples of Dumex Mamil Gold Infant Milk Formula - Step 1 (850g). PHOTO: AVA

SINGAPORE - A batch of a popular brand of infant milk formula has been recalled by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) after a strain of bacteria was found in test samples.

In a statement on Monday (Aug 20), the AVA said it detected 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 - which can survive dry conditions, such as dry food like infant formula and powdered milk - can be fatal to newborns as it can cause meningitis or sepsis. Symptoms include fever, poor feeding or lethargy.

Dumex Singapore, in a Facebook post on Monday 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 Facebook page to express concern over milk they had purchased.

One parent, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Wong, said she was deeply disappointed with Dumex as both her six-month-old and four-year-old sons 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 (younger) 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.

AVA advised consumers who have purchased the affected product to avoid consuming it. Parents or caregivers should seek medical assistance should their 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 which will be in contact with the infant, proper sanitaion of items meant for feeding infants, and ensuring milk formula is prepared in a clean environment and that utensils are clean.

Dr Leong Choon Kit, a general practitioner at Mission Medical Clinic, said: "The recall shows that the surveillance protocol and program 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."

For inquiries on refunds, consumers may contact the Dumex hotline on 1800-265-3188.

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