Contaminated Baby Formula Fears Hit U.S.

After three babies were killed and thousands became ill from infant formula in China, mothers in the United States started asking "How safe is the formula here?" Though the answer is unclear, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller, the government responded by instituting new safety standards.

Three-year-old Michael Feliciano was raised on baby formula.

"Throughout the first year he had Infamil LIPILwith Iron," says Jasmine Feliciano, Michael's mom. "I never breast-fed or anything."

Michael's formula is one of two best-selling brands that the Food and Drug Administration said tested positive for trace amounts of either the industrial chemical, melamine or a similar one called cyanuric acid.

They are Mead Johnson's Enfamil LIPIL with Iron and Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron. Abbott Laboratories, whose brands include Similac, independently reported that it had detected trace levels of melamine in its formula.

"Those three are like the number one formulas that they tell you to give to your kids if you are not going to breast feed," says mom Barbara Newsome.

The FDA came under fire recently for failing to set safety standards after large doses of melamine, as much as 10,000 parts per million, caused the deaths of three infants in China and made 50-thousand others sick. But late last week, administration set a safe threshold for either of the chemicals alone at 1 part per million - higher than the amounts they found in U.S. brands. The FDA insists the formulas are safe.

"That's a grain of sand in the beach," says Dr. Daniel Rauch, a pediatrician at New York University's Langone Medical Center. "That's a very, very small amount."

But is that very small amount safe?

"We think it's safe," Dr. Rauch says. "But the bottom line is that we don't really know, and zero would be best."

The FDA said it believes the contamination may occur because melamine is contained in a cleaning solution used on some food processing equipment.

Parents looking for an alternative might consider this: about 90 percent of all infant formulas produced in the U.S. are made by the three companies whose products tested positive for contaminants.

"For my next baby, I will breastfeed," says Jasmine Feliciano

The non-profit consumer advocacy group Consumers Union told CBS News it is not satisfied with the FDA tests and is calling for a recall of formula containing any melamine or cyanuric acid.
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