There have been two instances of Cronobacter contamination of infant formula identified in Australia so far in 2022. Both formula products were for specialist infant formula brands not available to the general public, but available under PBS prescription for children with special nutritional needs.

What is Cronobacter?

Cronobacter are bacteria found naturally in the environment. The bacteria can live in dry foods, such as powdered infant formula, powdered milk, herbal teas and starches.

Who is most at risk?

Getting sick from Cronobacter does not happen often, but infections in infants can be serious.

Infants more likely to get sick from Cronobacter infections include infants 2 months and younger, infants born prematurely, and infants with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.

What are the symptoms?

Cronobacter infection in infants will usually start with a fever and poor feeding, excessive crying, or very low energy. Some infants may also have seizures.

Cronobacter can cause a dangerous blood infection (sepsis) or make the linings surrounding the brain and spinal cord swell (meningitis).

Why is Cronobacter being identified in infant formula?

  • Powdered formula of any type is not sterile and might have germs in it.
  • Powdered infant formula can be contaminated in homes or in processing facilities that make it.
  • Usual safety measures should be followed to ensure the formula remains safe to drink, following the advice available from the NSW Food Authority

What products are affected?

  • KetoCal 3:1 (batch number 101101598, best before 8 July 2023)
    One affected batch of KetoCal 3:1 has been identified through routine testing of imported product at the border. There have been no illnesses linked to this product, and the source of contamination remains under investigation by the company.

    The affected tins have a batch number of 101101598 and expiry date of 08.07.2023. The manufacturer, Nutricia, has provided advice to all consumers on how to make the product safe to consume during the preparation process.
  • EleCare, Similac and Alimentum infant formula products (various batches)
    The affected products were recalled in February 2022 following several illnesses in infants who consumed the product overseas, including one death. There have been no identified cases in Australia.

    The recalled products can be identified by the 7 to 9 digit code and expiration date on the bottom of the package. Products are included in the recall if:
    • the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37, and
    • the code on the container contains K8, SH, or Z2, and
    • the expiration date is 4-1-2022 (April 2022) or later.

What should I do if my child has consumed these products?

Please do not change or stop your child's formula without consultation with your child's specialist or dietitian. It is recommended that you seek advice from your child's specialist or dietician, who will be able to advise on the most appropriate alternative product for your child's medical needs. Alternatively, advice is available on how to make the affected KetoCal 3:1 product safe for your child (see further resources).

If your child develops symptoms of Cronobacter infection, take them to a doctor as soon as possible. Tell them the names of the product they were consuming and be as specific as possible.

Further resources

General information

Food safety information for infant formula – NSW Food Authority

KetoCal 3:1 (batch number 101101598, best before 8 July 2023)

Supplementary information for parents from NSW Health, shared by Nutricia.

EleCare, Similac and Alimentum infant formula products (various batches)

Current as at: Monday 2 May 2022
Contact page owner: NSW Health