Friday, September 19, 2008

Poisoned Infant Formula

Remember the poison pet food from China? 

Well now it's baby formula from China.

So far, 4 infants in China have died and over a thousand are seriously ill from melamine tainted formula, according to The Australian News online.  The Chinese people are in an uproar of course. Parents there are scrabbling to buy imported formula.

As a grandmother of an new infant, I am very worried. He is a breast fed baby usually, but when his mom goes to work he drinks formula.  

According to the Food and Drug Administration, we have no need to worry, however.  The agency assures us, the public, that babies in the USA are safe from the poison formula. The statement on the FDA web site claims all US made baby formula is closely monitored and tested. 

But oddly, I could find no clear statement that none of the ingredients come from China, or other imported sources. And so, I went to Gerber's website and searched for information on the subject there, but found no mention of either the melamine issue or an assurance that their products are safe.

So, I called their customer service line and got a representative named Renee. She was a little vague on the subject but said Gerber (Nestle) was "aware" of the problem and she was certain none of their ingredients came from China. When I asked why there wasn't a mention of this fact on the Gerber web site, Renee didn't have an answer. She simply said the web site was "in transition." Hmmm. Odd.

Meanwhile Mead Johnson, the makers of Enfamil, have issued a statement denying any Chinese or other imported ingredients are used in their infant formulas. They are pretty clear in their denial. Let's hope they're telling the truth.

Abbott Nutrition, the makers of Similac, have likewise issued a statement of assurance. Their statement claims all ingredients come from the USA, New Zealand and Europe. They, like Mead Johnson, swear their formulas have no ingredients from China, nor contain melamine.

I want to feel relieved. I want to trust our government and the assurances of US corporations. But I still remember all the pets who got sick and died from food that appeared American made.  I also remember how long it took before the government took action and the corporations pulled the items from circulation.  And as I recall, it didn't say anywhere on those packages--Made in China.  Yet there it was, a silent poison wrapped in fancy packaging and sold by US companies to its citizens. 

I just hope the FDA is right this time. I hope that American companies who sell baby formula have maintained their safety standards. I hope we don't have another disaster in our midst.

Meanwhile, I'll hold my breath and continue to buy Made in USA, fingers crossed.