A fly (or ant) in the donor milk? In a recent Enforcement Report, a hospital reported that they found “either a fruit fly or a sugar ant” in the donor milk that was to be fed to a preterm infant. That’s the latest from the community milk bank scene. Seriously folks, if non-profit community milk banks want to continue providing milk to critically ill, preterm infants, they need to raise their standards. If you are using milk from a local milk bank in your NICU, you really need to look into how things are done at your local milk bank, especially when vulnerable preterm infants are at risk. While you’re there, ask them about donor testing, milk testing and ask if you can visit during processing. Especially in California, where the San Jose Milk Bank is pushing legislation to force mothers to donate to them instead of providing their milk to commercial milk banks like ours.
The bug in the milk was reported in the recent recall by the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank and is just the latest in a string of donor milk recalls that would never happen if proper processes were in place. Other recalls have taken place in the recent past. In one such recall, the San Jose Milk Bank included milk from a donor who tested positive for Hepatitis B. Milk went out to several hospitals and was fed to preterm infants in intensive care. This should serve as a warning to all hospitals using milk from San Jose, especially because the State of California passed legislation giving San Jose an exemption from any products liability related to illness or death from their donor milk. So, if one of the babies who received that milk from the Hepatitis B positive donor would have gotten sick or died, the hospital would stand alone in court, trying to explain why they allowed that to happen.
Then, there was the Montana Milk Bank recall which was even more disturbing because they also shipped some of the recalled milk to the San Jose Milk Bank. In this case, the donor had received live vaccines for influenza, DTAP and MMR but had given incorrect answers on her application.
Dozens of hospitals have reported finding hair or foreign particles in the milk, or receiving shipments that have thawed in transit or have broken glass bottles due to improper packaging.
As the demand continues to grow for donor breast milk, the risk will continue to rise, especially if community milk banks fail to improve their standards. If basic food safety laws were applied, many of the HMBANA milk banks would be shut down for violations. Hospitals need to examine these vendors with the same scrutiny as they do with other suppliers of products that are used with critically ill patients. Medolac’s safety and quality standards are unparalleled in the industry. We have the only commercially sterile donor milk. Shipped and stored at room temperature, we are beginning to ship globally so that the 15 million preterm infants in the world will have a better chance at survival.
There’s just no excuse for these sloppy processing procedures and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of these unfortunate events.