Mead Johnson shares plunged by nearly 20% at one point yesterday on news that one of its baby formula products was removed from the shelves of the biggest US retailer after being linked to the death of an infant.
The Wal-Mart actions against Enfamil PREMIUM Newborn powdered formula led to the price of Mead Johnson shares falling by nearly a fifth at one point during the day.
Mead Johnson share value ended the day more than 10% down.
The product was removed from shelves in more than 3,000 stores after an infant in Missouri who had consumed the product died and was found to be infected with Cronobacter – a rare bacterial illness.
Another case of the infection in a newborn has also been reported in Missouri in the last few months, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) said.
Cronobacter sakazakii, which is also known as Enterobacter sakazakii, is a bacterium often found naturally in guts of healthy humans, but can be harmful to infants.
Bacteria not present
Despite the fall in share value, the company has reiterated its confidence in the safety of its product, which is yet to actually be recalled by the company.
“This product is not being recalled – nor is any other Mead Johnson product – but some retailers are removing it from their shelves as a precautionary measure,” said a statement from Johnson Mead.
“All of our finished infant powdered products (including this batch) are tested for Cronobacter (Enterobacter sakazakii) prior to shipment. If an ingredient or a batch of powdered infant formula product is found to contain Cronobacter, it is rejected and not distributed.”
“The batch of the product used by the child’s family did not show the presence of the bacteria when it was produced and packaged, and that has recently been reconfirmed from our batch records.”
Although the product has not been recalled, the company is currently working with the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to determine the safety of the product.
“We are working with health authorities to support their efforts to identify the source or cause of the infant’s infection.”
Missouri health alert
The FDA has yet to issue a recall for the product, but health authorities in Missouri have produced a health alert.
The DHSS issued a warning in relation to the infection of the two newborn victims, but declined to identify the Mead Johnson product as the potential contaminant.
“The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been notified of two cases of invasive Enterobacter sakazakii infection in newborns treated in Missouri hospital within the last months,” a statement from the department said.
“The most recent case notification occurred yesterday. Of these two cases, one was an out-of-state resident who recovered, and the most recent case was a Missouri resident who has died. Both infants were fed powdered infant formula.”
“Testing of all baby formulas involved, as well as all other products given to the babies reported in Missouri is on-going.”