In one of those rare instances, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a public warning about a product with a serious food safety problem before the manufacturer did a “voluntary recall” of its own.

happy tot baby-food.jpgThe FDA acted late Wednesday night to warn parents about baby food manufactured for Nurture Inc. known as HAPPYTOT Stage 4 and HAPPYBABY Stage 1 and 2.  On Thursday, about ten hours after the FDA public warning,  Nurture Inc. came out about with specific details of a recall.

The baby foods involved are sold in pouches that are apparently swollen and may be leaking, and that could lead to contamination by bacteria that can cause illness.  Packaging that is compromised is at risk of bacterial contamination.

These baby meals in a pouch come with codes for expiration dates for November 2010 to January 2011.  The products were sold at less than 300 retail locations nationwide.

Recalled varieties include:

  • Green bean, pear & peas, NET WT. 4.22 OZ. (120g), UPC 8 52697 00127 9;
  • Sweet potato, carrot, apple & cinnamon, NET WT. 4.22 OZ. (120g), UPC 8 52697 00128 6;
  • Spinach, mango & pear, NET WT. 4.22 OZ. (120g), UPC 8 52697 00129 3;
  • Butternut squash & apple, NET WT. 4.22 OZ. (120g), UPC 8 52697 00130 9;
  • Banana, peach, coconut & prunes, NET WT. 4.22 OZ. (120g), UPC 8 52697 00131 6;
  • Banana, peach & mango, NET WT. 4.22 OZ. (120g), UPC 8 52697 00132 3
  • Mango, NET WT. 3.5 OZ. (99g), UPC 8 52697 00134 7 
  • Spinach Mango Pear, NET WT. 3.5 OZ. (99g), UPC 8 52697 00139 2
  • Apricot Sweet Potato, NET WT. 3.5 OZ. (99g), UPC 8 52697 00136 1

The public was warned not to consume the products after receiving a consumer complaint of a swollen pouch.  The FDA contacted Brooklyn, NY-based Nurture Inc. and began an investigation that found additional baby food pouches that were swollen or leaking.  FDA is testing for possible bacterial contamination.

The FDA is also conducting an inspection at an unnamed contract domestic manufacturer of these products to review its overall manufacturing process. No illnesses have been reported to the FDA to date.

Consumers who have served or consumed these products and become ill should contact their health providers immediately and report that to their FDA district office and to the company.

Consumers who see swelling, leaking, or packaging problems in any HAPPYTOT Stage 4 or HAPPYBABY Stage 1 or Stage 2 pouched baby food products should discard the products in a way that will keep people and pets from retrieving them, and should wash their hands thoroughly after handling the packages.

Store personnel who handle products involved in the company recall should wash their hands thoroughly after handling packages of these products.

FDA is promising parents updates as they become available.