The FDA should explain why it recanted on its recall order of Sustagen Junior and Alactagrow

I’ve never believed that milk formulas and supplements could turn a child into a genius. It could help them towards obesity at the extremist, but make a math wizard or Mozart out of them? What a load of bull. It’s all just a marketing gimmick to help big pharmacuetical companies to sell their milk products.

My peers and I grew up not drinking those powdered milk products and we all turned up fine. Most of us are doing great in our respective fields and industry. That’s why when the Philippine FDA recently issued a September 16 recall order on two Mead Johnson products: Sustagen Junior and Alactagrow, a smile leaked on my face. At least the government is doing something to keep these pharma companies from milking us with their milk products on false claims that it will make a wonder child out of our children.

The recall was issued after the FDA found out that the two milk products’ fat content were way below the FDA standards.

But that little relief was shot-lived as just in a few days after, September 22, the FDA made a complete step backwards and said that both milk products were now “safe” for consumption. Sassy Lawyer even pointed out that the FDA were amenable to Mead Johnson’s plea to let them sell all existing stocks which were the subject of the recall orders while assuring that “updated” and “reformulated” versions of the milk products would be made available soon.

It just goes to show how powerful Mead Johnson and other pharma companies are. The FDA wouldn’t issue such recall orders after making their own analysis of the milk products first and since it did issue a recall order, it proved that the milk products were not safe for consumption.

In response to the FDA’s recantation of its recall order, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) issued a statement urging the FDA to stand firm on the recall order:

The failure of Alactagrow Bibo Trio Milk Supplement to provide the fat content of 3 to 6g. per 100 kcal. as set by FDA regulations and the Codex STAN 156-1987 for milk supplements, potentially puts older infants and young children at serious risk for undernutrition related to insufficient fat intake.

Fats in the diet of older infants and young children are critical because they are essential for brain and neurological development. Brain and neural growth remains rapid during the second year of life. As well, fats have 2.5 times the energy density of carbohydrates and proteins and therefore are critical to providing adequate energy for growth.

Alactagrow has no added fats; hence the only fats present are those from the whole milk powder, which as the 4th listed ingredient, after skim milk powder (no fat) and corn syrup solids and sucrose, is likely to be minimal. Indeed the total fat content as determined by the FDA is a mere 1.34g. per 100 kcal.

The deception and misrepresentation of the label is confounded by the confusing and contradictory messages regarding the recommended age for the use of this product – which on the one hand states 1-3 years old and on the other hand states that a milk supplement should not be introduced before the sixth month. This conveys the clear message that the product is suitable for infants after 6 months. The need for essential fats for infants between the ages of six to 12 months is even greater, so this increases the risk to health.

The product is primarily a fat reduced milk powder, with sugar, fortified with minerals and vitamins. An expensive product that is deficient in the essential level of fat required by older infants and young children.

Since milk (unmodified with added sugars and reduced fats) remains the most important component of a young child’s diet providing:

55% of energy – 9-11 months
40% of energy – 12-23 months

The marketing of Alactagrow by MJ is fraudulent, misleads parents and risks less than optimal growth and development, especially brain and neurological development for older infants and young children.

This is why the FDA must explain why it made a turnaround on its recall order of Sustagen Junior and Alactagrow. Why after just a span of a few days and despite its own analysis of the two milk products, it recanted on its recall order giving much concessions to Mead Johnson who argued on mere technical interpretations of FDA regulations. Call it an over-reaction, but an investigation into the matter is just proper. Government should not allow itself to be cowed by big corporations, especially if the safety and welfare of our children are at stake.

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