USA – In a significant development, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to three prominent infant formula producers for their infractions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the FDA’s Infant Formula regulations.
The warning letters issued to ByHeart, Reckitt/Mead Johnson Nutrition, and Perrigo Wisconsin followed thorough inspections of the companies’ facilities, revealing violations of legislation.
Although these warnings were not tied to any current recalls, they emphasized the importance of corrective actions to ensure the safety of infant formula products in the market.
The backdrop for the letters included recalls initiated by all three companies to remove products that were potentially contaminated with Cronobacter sakazakii.
Donald Prater, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, stressed the responsibility of infant formula manufacturers to produce safe products and noted ongoing discussions between the agency and the industry to address concerns.
He emphasized the FDA’s commitment to early issue identification and prevention, aiming to avoid a recurrence of last year’s large-scale recall and the subsequent infant formula shortage.
The warning letters were part of the FDA’s standard regulatory process, intended to underscore the necessity of implementing and maintaining corrective actions when pathogens are detected, ensuring compliance with FDA laws and regulations.
The companies are required to conduct thorough root cause investigations, perform cleaning and sanitation activities, and evaluate their hygiene practices, schedules, and procedures before product release.
This initiative aligned with this heightened oversight, aiming to facilitate continuous improvement in manufacturing practices, ultimately providing parents and caregivers with confidence in the safety and nutrition of the formula they choose for their children.
Over the past year, the FDA has significantly increased its oversight of powdered infant formula facilities, reflecting its commitment to enhancing safety standards in the industry.
The companies in question will have 15 working days to submit explanations to the FDA regarding the corrective actions they are undertaking.
Meanwhile, FDA will subsequently assess the adequacy of these actions through a review of the companies’ responses and on-site inspections of their facilities to verify the implementation of the corrective measures.
The comes as part of the FDA’s broader strategy to prevent future contaminations and shortages in the infant formula market following the crisis of the previous year.
The agency has collaborated with Congress to strengthen its regulatory tools and secure increased funding to oversee the infant formula industry.
Additionally, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA have supported the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ decision to include Cronobacter infections among infants under one year old in the Nationally Notifiable Conditions List, a comprehensive reporting system for diseases in the US.