SYDNEY, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Australian government testing has found Nestl's new NAN H.A. Gold infant formula to be safe, despite complaints from parents that it is making their children sick.
Chronic wind, rashes, constant crying and dark green watery poo are among the side-effects listed by parents with sick babies, thought to be a response to Nestl's new formula which was released in June 2011.
The changes were the result of a new technology in the manufacturing process, which caused small alterations to the micronutrient profile of the formula, a Nestl spokesperson told Xinhua.
Since the recipe modifications, a 'Recall all Nestle NAN H.A. Gold Baby Formula' Facebook page attracted 1,700 supporters, and more than 300 comments were posted by angry parents on consumer website Product Review.
"My poor three month old was on this formula for two days. She became very irritable and was refusing to eat. I finally decided to give up on this formula when her poos became dark green and watery," posted one mother.
"I felt terrible thinking I had unwittingly made my baby sick. The manufacturers should feel even worse and want to stop any likelihood of hurting any more babies," she added.
However, independent testing by the NSW Food Authority in September found no food safety issues with the formula.
"There is no reason to believe the recent change in formulation of NAN H.A. 1 Gold Infant Formula is physically harmful to children," reported NSW Health in a statement released on 11 September 2012.
"It is not uncommon for infants to have a change in stooling or develop other mild symptoms when changing from one infant formula to a new infant formula, or as in this case, where there has been a change in composition of the formula," they added.
An expert panel was convened to consider the health concerns surrounding the product.
In response to the complaints, Nestl said in a statement, "we understand the concern of those whose babies were unwell, and we want to reassure them that NAN H.A infant formula, like all our products, meets the highest standards of quality and safety.
"We have repeated the thorough tests we run before the product leaves the factory and shared the results with the local authorities. The results reconfirm our findings that the product is safe.
"We know that babies have sensitive digestive systems, and they adjust to changes in their own unique way... Not every infant formula will suit every child ... and some mothers will have to try a couple of formulas before they find one that's right," the Nestl spokesperson added. "One of the things we're doing in Australia is to provide some more information about formula transition to help parents."
This might come as cold comfort to some consumers. "When I started using the new improved formula I had not realized that I was buying a totally different product," posted Darling28, another forum reviewer, in August. "It has nothing on it stating the actual ingredient change and no warning on it as to what the side effects might be."
Paediatrician Professor John Sinn, from the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, told The Newcastle Herald in September that he supported the expert panel's findings, and condemned the mass- panic caused by social media.
"We do use this formula and I have not seen reactions in any of my patients," he said. "The use of mass media and Facebook by some groups these days really causes a lot of anxiety and grief, leading parents to associate the symptoms of their child with the formula."
"It's a placebo effect and, while I don't deny their symptoms are there, it is no justification for claims this formula is unsafe," he added.