In light of the Similac recall, I debated breaking into Guest Post week to blog about these current events. I was torn – on one hand, I would love to be conspicuously silent on this, out of respect for the parents and children affected by this recall, and as a peaceful protest against those who are blowing this out of proportion in order to add fuel to the anti-formula fire. On the other hand, it’s important to make sure people do not panic. And I feel like if I ignored these events altogether, it would be unfair to any readers affected by the recall.
I hope that Similac is handling the recall in the most responsible way possible. So far, I think they have been doing a fair job. (Although I just heard that their site crashed last night, making it difficult for parents to get the answers they so craved – I hope that this has been resolved.) For my part, I just want to point out a few things to try and alleviate some of the understandable terror that formula feeding parents are experiencing – and then we will get back to Guest Post Week, I swear!
1. While the thought of beetle larvae in our children’s food is utterly pukeworthy, it may help to realize that bugs aren’t arsenic. I’m in no way excusing what happened, just trying to provide a bit of perspective. Obviously, you don’t want to feed your child the tainted formula, but at the same time, if you did unknowingly offer Junior some Beetlejuice in a bottle, he will be okay. As Similac stated on their website, there is a risk of some gastrointestinal problems or a “refusal to eat”. (Um, yeah. If my mom gave me food with ground up beetles in it, I’d probably want to avoid her cooking for awhile…) But with these recalls, legal departments make sure that companies mention any possibility of worse-case scenarios to avoid litigation. I don’t believe that the tainted formula is life-threatening. Just gross and disturbing.
2. I don’t blame anyone who wants to switch brands after this disgusting development, but I also think we need to remember that ALL formulas are subject to recalls, just like any man-made or man-handled product (and this includes banked breastmilk, for the record… just because it comes from a human does not mean damage or tampering can occur in the transfer process. That milk still needs to be stored, transported, and delivered). Recently, some cans of Nestle’s Good Start Formula were found to have been tampered with. This is an unfortunate aspect of formula feeding, and while I think it’s inappropriate, immature and just plain rude for people to be gleefully yelling “breastmilk doesn’t have beetles” from the rooftops, the fact is, they are right. For most of us, though, our decision not to breastfeed did not come lightly, and we have already performed endless risk-benefit analyses. It’s kind of a moot point. Companies should be held accountable and pressured to uphold the strictest of quality standards… but other than that, you have to take a leap of faith. They will never be able to control everything. At risk of perpetuating the fear mongering atmosphere of the past 36 hours, I have to bring up the fact that tampering can happen long after a product leaves the auspices of the company that produced it. (Think of the razor-blades-in-Halloween-candy scare that happened in our childhoods. I bet most of us still eat Snickers bars though…) Raging against formula companies is only attacking part of the problem here, unfortunately. But I’m taking a step back, and reminding myself that millions of babies (including mine, who was raised entirely on Similac after his first month of life), over several decades, have been nourished perfectly safely by these products. Statistically, we’re in pretty good shape.
3. If you don’t feel comfortable using the same old Similac you’ve been using, it’s perfectly okay to switch to a comparable version made by another brand. In my completely unprofessional opinion, I’d choose one of the “sensitive” formulas as a temporary replacement, simply because they are gentler on the stomach, and sometimes when you switch brands there can be a little adjustment period. Another option might be to switch to the liquid version of your usual Similac formula, as these were not affected by the recall. I think this goes without saying for the readers of this blog, but just in case – do NOT give cow’s milk, any other kind of milk, or Pedialyte as a replacement for formula. That would be far more hazardous to your baby’s health than a few bug limbs.
I’m not going to go too far into my feelings about how the mommy-blogosphere has used the Similac recall to demonstrate its ugliest side. At best, we’ve seen pity towards formula feeders; at worst, unrestrained gloating about yet another benefit of breastfeeding. Interestingly, when the recent Tylenol/Motrin recall happened, I didn’t notice anyone posting about how proud they were of letting their child burn up with fever rather than allowing them to have potentially tainted medication.
I lose more faith in humanity by the day, but especially in the portion of humanity that have vaginas. This is why I had so few female friends in high school. You don’t see fathers turning on each other like this. (Thank god for people like this, who help me think all is not lost.)
And now…back to Guest Post Week (considering how my hits have skyrocketed in the past few days, it’s clear that y’all would rather hear from other people than from me, so I better get back to it, huh?) Later tonight, I’ll put up an interesting piece on a study about the psychological health/infant attachment of breast and formula feeding moms, by a blogger from An Apple A Day.