I-Team: Metal Shavings Found in Baby Formula

A sample of baby formula tested positive for the presence of aluminum dust, the company confirmed

After discovering metal shavings in her newborn’s bottle of formula, a mother from Suffolk County is calling on the manufacturer and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take action.

Michele Myler of Ridge, N.Y, says she noticed tiny dark particles blocking the nipple of her son Joey’s bottle during a feeding in April.

“I knew they were hard and I knew they were grey. It looked like metal, but I don’t think that I could wrap my head around thinking there was actually metal in his formula,” Myler said.

When Myler sent a sample of the formula – a brand called Enfamil A.R. -- back to the manufacturer, a company representative left a voicemail message confirming the metal shavings were aluminum dust.

Despite affirming the presence of metal, Mead Johnson, the maker of Enfamil, insists the dust is too miniscule to pose a health risk.

In an email to NBC 4 New York's I-Team, Chris Perille, a Mead Johnson spokesperson, wrote, “Health experts agree that traces of minute particles smaller than 2 millimeters – much larger than the dust mentioned above – pose no risk even if consumed by infants.”

The baby formula manufacturer believes the shavings that settled in Michele Myler’s bottle came from the lip of the aluminum Enfamil canister.

“On occasion, this dust may fall into a can when the ‘Easy Open’ aluminum lid is pulled back the first time the can is opened. While the phenomenon is rare, it does occur from time to time,” Perille wrote.

In 2006, Mead Johnson issued a voluntary recall of a similar powdered formula because the product contained metal particles. But in that case, the manufacturer says the metallic shavings came from “a small and isolated section of equipment used in our manufacturing process.”

Research has linked aluminum consumption to dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and memory loss in lab animals. But studies of aluminum and its effect on the human brain have proven inconclusive.

“Until we know for sure whether aluminum is completely safe, which seems unlikely, we should apply some sort of precautionary principle,” said Dr. Christopher Exley, who studies the metal at Keele University in Great Britain.

“For this product not to be recalled is total complacency,” he added.

Patricia El-Hinnawy, a spokeswoman for the FDA, indicated the agency would need more complaints or more conclusive evidence to pull Enfamil A.R. off of shelves.

“In the case of a widespread problem with aluminum shavings in a food product, FDA would act to see that the products were taken off the market,” El-Hinnawy wrote in an email to the I-Team.

Michele Myler says her baby did suffer some diarrhea around the time he ingested the formula tainted with aluminum dust, but there’s no way to tell if the product was to blame. She says regulators should investigate the “Easy Open” aluminum top.

“Why haven’t they said you cannot make this product anymore because it can hurt an infant?” Myler said.

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