Perspective: Challenges with product testing in powdered infant formula


Right now, many concerned parents are probably thinking, how could Cronobacter sakazakii get through the powdered infant formula (PIF) production system? Shouldn’t a food safety monitoring system find such a serious problem? Aren’t those products tested before arriving on shelves? And the very challenging answer is yes, these products were likely tested with a standardized sampling and testing method consistent with regulatory guidance. In fact, in an official statement, the company said all finished products are tested for Salmonella spp. and Cronobacter sakazakii before they are released, and the product samples the company retained tested negative for the implicated microorganism related to the complaints (Abbott, 2022). This begs the questions, how powerful can the current sampling and testing program be, and is there an end-product testing strategy that would guarantee that this would not happen again? The short answers are that current sampling and testing are not that powerful, and no, testing will not ever guarantee complete safety.