22 Sep 2008

NZ babies unwell after changes made to formula

3:59 pm on 22 September 2008

A baby formula company says it will refund parents whose babies become unwell after drinking formula manufactured by a temporary supplier.

More than 70 parents in New Zealand reported symptoms in their babies, including diarrhoea and vomiting, after drinking Nuture baby formulas.

Heinz, which owns the brand, says it temporarily switched suppliers for its Nurture Starter and Nurture Follow-On formulas, after its New Zealand-based supplier advised it could no longer supply it.

In a statement, Heinz said it arranged temporary supply from its sister company in Britain, and there were differences in the preparation process and minor differences in some ingredients.

As an example, it said, the British supplier used powdered whey, whereas frequently the old product was made using liquid whey.

Heinz said it could not advertise the switch because of a World Health Organisation advertising code, but that it did include a leaflet with cans to inform parents.

The company said it was aware that infants can respond to the slightest change, but believed most should adjust to the new formula within days. If they do not, parents should contact their health professional for advice.

Food Safety Authority deputy chief executive Sandra Daly says the company does not have a legal obligation to inform the authority if it changes suppliers.

However, Ms Daly says babies are so sensitive to changes in their food that it would have been extremely useful to have had good labelling.

She says the authority also would have expected to hear from the company if 70 children became ill.

The complaints are not linked to the Chinese milk contamination scandal.