KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Kroger Foods, owner of Fred Meyer and QFC, has pulled Earth's Best Organic Soy Infant Formula while investigating what appears to be a labeling issue.
The company acknowledged a labeling problem with some of its product, but said the proper formula was used and does not pose a health risk.
A mother from Kirkland raised questions after she found a label that concerned her on her infant's formula. Underneath the Earth's Best Organic Soy Infant Formula, there was a portion of another label. It was a purple strip that was so small, she could not make out what it said.
"I was completely panic-stricken. I didn't know what I just fed my daughter," said the mother, who did not want her name used due to privacy concerns.
The mother checked the container in the first place because after she fed her 5-month-old daughter Tuesday night, she said the baby began to act fussy. She added that her daughter is allergic to dairy.
"She started getting sick," said the mom who told KING 5 that the consistency of the formula was drier than usual. "I looked at the can and it looked a little lifted in a spot, so I tore the label off and I noticed that there was another piece of an old formula label or something."
She returned to the Fred Meyer in Kirkland where she had purchased the formula. She said an assistant manager accompanied her down the formula isle, and they checked another can and found the same thing, a label under the label. She said the employee called another store, and the clerk there reported seeing it too.
King 5 contacted Fred Meyer spokesperson Melinda Merrill. After an hour of investigating, Merrill sent this email to KING 5 Wednesday afternooon:
"We are stunned and bothered by this, and have not experienced this in our stores before. We are pulling the product from our shelves right now. We are working to get in touch with the vendor as soon as possible and understand what’s happened. We do not purchase our baby formula from 2nd or 3rd parties, and part of the reason for that is to avoid this kind of situation."
Merrill said the Kroger Company which operates Fred Meyer and QFC had the formula pulled from all store shelves for now. The company has stores throughout the Northwest.
Earth's Best issued the following statement:
"Earth’s Best is committed to safety and has stringent procedures for quality control. A small number
of Earth’s Best canisters appear to have a label remnant under the proper Earth’s Best label, and
the canisters do contain the proper infant formula.
This was caused by an error that was identified through our quality control procedures in which the wrong label was originally applied. The product integrity was never compromised and is completely intact.
There is no health issue with the product. We have taken steps to ensure that this cannot happen
again in keeping with Earth’s Best’s commitment to the health of infants and children of all ages."
Food and Drug Administration spokesperson, Alan Bennett, could not comment about this situation because he said he had not heard of any labeling issues with Earth's Best. Bennett said in some circumstances companies can put a sticker over an original label. He referred to this section of the FDA's Food Labeling Guide:
L55. Is it permissible to use stickers to make changes in labeling?
Answer: Correcting label mistakes in any manner is acceptable if the final label is correct and complies with all regulations at the time of retail sale. The stickers should not cover other mandatory labeling, and should adhere tightly.