WHO warns of contamination of formula milk

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Infant

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for a set of
guidelines to be drafted up to identify the contamination risks of
formula milk. Last year it was revealed that a dangerous strain of
bacteria was more widespread than originally thought. Pressure
groups are now calling for the industry to implement risk labelling
stystems, writes Danny Vincent.

The World Health Organisation has identified the risks associated with the contamination of formula milk. The group believes that a set of guidelines should be put into place to advise how best to limit the risk of infection - inparticular to limit the risk of the strain of Bacteria Enterobacter Sakazaki, which has been found to be more common than originally predicted, writes Danny Vincent.​Last year E. sakakazaki​ was found in a number formula milk factories in unnamed countries across the world. Some would argue that the food industry has underestimated the dangers associated with the strain while others stress the fact that high levels of the bacteria must be present in order for babies to fall victim of to the illnesses that the bacteria can bring about.

However, following the United Nations expert meeting on E.sakazaki​The World Health Organisation, has issued a statement clarifying the dangers associated with it.

"Intrinsic contamination of powered infant formula with E.sakazakii and Salmonella has been a cause of infection and illness in infants including severe disease, and can lead to serious developmental sequelae and death",​ the group indicated.

Until recently little was known on how widespread the strain was. The bacteria is dangerous for those with weak immune systems and new borns are prone to contracting meningitis from the bacteria.

There have been relatively few cases of of E.sakazaki​ contamination world wide but mortality levels are high for babies that are infected. All cases that have been reported have indicated that babies that are less than 5 months old are the most likely to fall victim.

This has made the subject very emotive. Companies such as Nestlé have been hit hard with boy cots and petitions with regards to their policy of selling and marketing of formula milk.The International Baby Food Action Network believes that WHO should take a leading role in the Resolution of World Health Assembly in May to bring the problem of contamination to the member states.

The group is asking Codex, the United Nations food standards setting body to push for a recognised risk labelling.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Fresh Milk

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