Saskatoon mother felt ‘panicked’ after studying of system recall

Justina Sowden says she was in the middle of feeding her four-month-old son Xander when she heard about the Similac brand of baby formula being recalled due to possible salmonella and cronobacter contamination.

“I panicked, I definitely felt panicked and I felt trapped because I couldn’t use the one that makes him sick and the ones we had been using disappeared and were recalled,” she said.

Sowden’s son has had multiple stomach surgeries and has a gastroesophageal reflux disorder so using a higher quality formula for sensitive stomachs is essential.

Sowden says she went to several stores and found the shelves were “largely picked over” and felt she wasn’t left with many options to feed her baby.

Justina Sowden says she was in the middle of feeding her four-month-old son Xander when she heard about the news of the Similac brand of baby formula being recalled. (Miriam Valdes-Carletti/CTV Saskatoon)

“I did find of those more specific kinds, those were the ones that were particularly picked over and there were fewer options of what we could (use),” she said.

She says the “anxiety-provoking situation” has largely ended up working out as she’s turned to Amazon to find the brand she needed, but even that is limited.

Sowden says the formula she’s been able to grab isn’t the “perfect one” compared to the Similac brand she was using before the recall.

The Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Center has also been affected by the formula recall and says they’re in a “critical shortage.” It says they haven’t had formula available for six weeks.

They say the situation has become dire as they had to return several cases during the recall, leaving their shelves empty.

An empty shelf at Real Canadian Superstore on Eighth Street in Saskatoon. (Miriam Valdes-Carletti/CTV Saskatoon)

“To have to tell families we don’t have formula on our shelves is devastating, it’s very hard on the staff who are serving the public every day and think of those families and those babies and what they’re going to do, it’s a tough go,” said director of operations and engagement Deborah Hamp.

The food bank is hoping to have formula back in the building in the next week or two.


While some parents might find they’ll have to change formula brands in order to feed their baby, registered dietitian Natalie Austman says they shouldn’t worry.

“In Canada and the US formula is really tightly regulated so you don’t have to worry about your child’s nutrition being impacted,” she said.

Austman says parents could notice that their baby might react differently and become gassy as each child is different and they might have a different taste.

“In general, the differences in formula are very small in terms of nutrient requirements,” she said.

For babies using a specialized formula for issues such as lactose or soy intolerance, Austman says parents should stay within that same category.

If parents become desperate, she advises they don’t make their own formulas at home as there are risks of food-borne illnesses and not getting proper nutrient ratios.

She recommends parents shop at smaller pharmacies and if they can’t find their specialized formula, go to their doctor who may have an alternative.

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