When going to the grocery, most people do not expect to have problems with expiration dates.
This was the case for Tiffin residents Jordan and Amanda Treat until last week, when their 2-month-old daughter had food poisoning they say was from formula purchased at Tiffin Walmart.
On Jan. 10, the Treats went to the supermarket to purchase formula for their 2-month-old daughter, Eve.
PHOTO BY NICK DUTRO
Jordan and Amanda Treat say their 2-month-old daughter Eve got food poisoning after ingesting baby formula that had expired at least three months earlier. They said the formula was purchased at the Tiffin Walmart.
The store had a sale on Similac formula to reduce spit-up, which was almost half off, Amanda said.
That night, Eve got sick when Amanda fed her a bottle of the new formula.
"She spit almost the entire thing up, which I thought it was unusual, especially because the type we bought was supposed to prevent spit-up," Amanda said.
"With her next bottle a couple hours later, she did it again, and also had some diarrhea, which, again, was very unusual for her."
At 3 a.m. Tuesday, Amanda fed her a Gerber brand powdered formula, which she said Eve kept down, but after another feeding of the Similac in the morning with the same results as before, the Treats said they had some serious concerns.
Jordan looked at the bottles and discovered at least one had expired in October and another in April.
The Treats said they then took their daughter to the emergency room and their pediatrician.
According to the Treats, the doctors said Eve "basically had food poisoning." They were told there would not be any long-term complications, but it was three days before the 8 ounces of formula worked its way through Eve's system.
Jordan said when he returned the formula to Walmart, employees apologized, said it should not have happened, offered a refund and had him file a incident report for corporate. He took the refund.
"Our concern at that point was not only our kid -," Jordan said.
"But how many other mothers bought the expired formula, because it was on sale, it was half off," Amanda said.
Lorenzo Lopez, spokesman for Wal-Mart, said the company "takes product quality and food safety very seriously and have procedures in place for formula to be rotated and inspected weekly to ensure its quality."
Lopez said there have been no other similar reports from the Tiffin Walmart.
Tami Jones, spokeswoman for Abbott Laboratories, maker of Similac, said it is important for parents to check expiration dates before giving products to children. Parents should not use expired products. She added there is no evidence to suggest consuming expired formula would result in any long-term or serious illness.
The Treats used formula to supplement breast milk, which Amanda said she tries to do as much as possible. She is in a breastfeeding support group and has connected with Eats on Feets, a Canadian-based breast milk sharing network which informally helps link mothers who cannot produce enough breast milk with willing donors. State chapters of the program have surfaced across the country with the help of social networks such as Facebook.
Nancy Howe, director of Women, Infants and Children for Seneca County, said it promotes breastfeeding for mothers in the program and can provide help for families who do not qualify for the program.
Howe said WIC does not officially recommend any mother-to-mother breast milk sharing, but she said many people are choosing that option rather than formula.
"We support our moms in any choice they make," she said.
She said WIC prefers banked milk, but it is hard to obtain and cost can be prohibitive.
As for formula, Howe said WIC keeps very a very small stock but workers are careful to rotate the supply.
Because formula is a necessity, the Treats said they are going to be very cautious checking expiration dates in the future, not just for formula, but for all products.
"Now anytime I go shopping, it's going to take twice as long because I am going to check every single expiration date on every product because I'm not going to take the chance of her getting sick again or us getting sick," Amanda said.
"It would have been one thing if it had been a few days, a few weeks out of date, but months and months like that?" Jordan said.
"There is no excuse for something like that," Amanda said.