In a small reminder that the fate of American Jews is never far removed from that of Israelis, the panic over a defective Remedia baby formula quickly spread to the Orthodox enclaves of New York, where some Remedia products are sold in stores.
There have been no reported cases of sickness in America so far, but New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sent a health alert to physicians throughout the city and a news release bearing a photograph of a Remedia can.
On Saturday, synagogues made announcements in services, and in the Flatbush and Borough Park sections of Brooklyn, the Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance Corps dispatched its drivers through the streets to warn parents by loudspeaker about the defective formula.
Because it was a life-or-death matter, the prohibition against driving did not apply, explained Hatzolah’s president, Heshey Jacob.
Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co., which is a principal owner of Remedia, released a statement that said: “The Remedia formula is not manufactured, sold, or marketed anywhere else in the world besides Israel. The product is not exported for sale in the U.S., but it is possible that some independent companies have shipped very small amounts to here or other countries, generally for consumption by families who follow kosher dietary laws.”
A number of stores in Brooklyn were selling Remedia formula, all of which quickly removed the product from shelves.
Daniel Botnick, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, said it has been difficult to find any information on the Remedia formula that made its way to the United States.
“My daughter has used the formula with her baby,” Botnick said. “When she called the Food and Drug Administration to learn what she should do, they told her to call back tomorrow. It’s been very frustrating.”
While Heinz provided an American telephone number for journalists, the press release told concerned parents to call a special number in Israel.
The Crown Heights Community Council blew up the letter from Heinz and displayed it in their window, with the only definite information that has been given so far: “Parents of children who may be using Remedia soy-based formula are advised to contact their doctor.”