Babies younger than six months admitted to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) between 1 and 20 August may have received contaminated bottle-feeding while in hospital, said the ministry of Health yesterday.
Dumex's Mamil Gold milk formula for infants – phase 1 (850 g), which is sold for infants up to six months of age, was removed from the shelves after samples were tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a recall on Monday.
MOH was informed yesterday that the formula of the batch in question was used in the two hospitals, who contact parents and caregivers of babies who may have received infant formula to advise them on what to do.
No cases of Cronobacter infection associated with the consumption of formula milk have been reported to MOH this year, he said.
MOH added that all public and private children's hospitals were advised to stop using the formula of the batch concerned and to inform the ministry of suspected cases.
Products of the recalled batch expire on 11 September next year and can be recognized by the batch number 09117R1 printed on the lid of the can.
Although it is rare, infections caused by the bacterium can be fatal to infants because it can cause meningitis or sepsis. The bacterium can survive in dry food such as milk powder.
Infants with Cronobacter infection, who can be treated with antibiotics, may develop symptoms such as fever, poor diet or lethargy, while some may develop epileptic seizures, according to MOH. The incubation period typically ranges from four to nine days, but can be up to 21 days.
The key to prevention lies in the proper hygiene and the preparation of formula feeding, it added.
This is the first time that a formula milk product has been recalled because it does not meet the AVA standards and requirements for food safety, as was stated in response to questions.
As a precaution, all new shipments of Dumex infant formula products manufactured in Malaysia are subject to the conservation and testing regime of the GMS. This means that imported products can not be sold before they have been approved and tested.
Within the framework of the Food Safety Surveillance Program, food safety and quality certification is obtained before imports and importers that consistently meet standards and requirements are subject to routine monitoring and sampling.
Dumex, part of the Danone group, based in France, said yesterday that the affected batch of 4,200 cans imported from Malaysia has been on the whole island since January.
The company is testing every party leaving its factory and working with the authorities to "identify the conditions that led to the positive samples," a spokesman said.
Pediatricians told The Straits Times that they have not seen any cases of infection here.
Four to six cases are reported annually in the United States.
Dr. Yang Linqi of Thomson Pediatric Center said that the recipe milk can be contaminated by exposure to the environment during the packaging process, for example.
Dr Ong Eng Keow, a pediatrician and neonatologist at the International Child and Adolescent Clinic at Mount Alvernia Hospital, warned that the prescription milk can also be contaminated during preparation if proper hygiene procedures are not followed.
"Contamination can even happen after a can of powdered milk has been opened … Bottles and teats must be well sterilized and the temperature of the water must be above 70 ° C during preparation to kill bacteria", said Dr. Approx.
Supermarkets said that all products currently on the shelves are safe for consumption and that they will give refunds to customers who have bought the relevant cans from their stores.
The recall has done little to remove the fears of some parents.
Official Jayson Tsu, 33, said he bought a look from the recalled party to supplement breastfeeding for his three-week-old son.
"I completely lost confidence in their product … The milk powder scandal in China in 2008 is still alive by our heads," said Tsu, referring to milk powder contaminated with melamine that killed six children and thousands more sick in China.
According to market research firm Euromonitor International, Dumex is the fourth most popular brand of formula milk in Singapore, with an estimated turnover of $ 18.8 million last year.