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Posted on: August 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm
Last updated: August 19, 2019 at 9:58 am

Baby Adeline was sick for days. The nine-month-old was crying, vomiting, and refusing to drink from her bottle. Her mother, Medline Roque, was desperate to find an answer.

“She was throwing up throughout the day, passing a lot of gas… I just knew something was wrong,” she said.

The sickness seemed to have come out of nowhere. The mother couldn’t recall that could have caused it. Then she noticed the baby formula she had bought from Walmart. It looked off, especially after she tried to prepare it for Adeline.

“I looked at the milk and I realize something’s definitely weird, the color is different, the texture was different,” Roque said.

She tested it by letting the drink stand for a few minutes, and the mixture separated — which baby formula never does.

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“And then when I poured it the bottle into the sink, I saw how it got, that’s when it hit me,” Roque said. “I saw how it clumped up and I’m like oh my god, my daughter’s stomach is just the same or worse.”

She suspected the powder was flour. Since then she has notified Walmart, who assured her and the police that their policy is to not place returned items on the shelves, but they will still investigate this occurrence.

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Other Cases of Children Suffering from Flour “Formula”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time something like this has happened. In fact, the police are looking into these cases and discovered other such tampered formulas on store shelves. It seems that people are buying expensive baby formula, replacing the containers with a similar substance like flour, and returning it to the store for the money.

Last month, a couple in Arizona was arrested for running a thief ring, buying and returning baby formula. This con made almost half a million dollars. [1]

Last year, another child became sick due to tampered formula. Like Roque, the mother discovered it in time. “It was very clumpy at the bottom none of it had poured out,” she said. “Then I noticed the color and consistency was off.”

One horrifying incident in particular occurred in 2017, when a woman replaced multiple baby formula containers in four different stores.

The police weren’t aware of this serial crime until a baby became sick from a Gerber formula purchased at a Fry’s Food and Drug store. Fry’s aided the police in tracking down other tampered items, and a week later, they provided the police with a suspect: a 30-year-old Tucson woman named Jennifer Laplante. She had switched baby formula at another Fry’s and two Walmart locations, and possibly other stores according to the police.

Laplante was charged with child endangerment and fraudulent schemes and artifices, to which she later pleaded guilty. [2]

As awful as these cases are, they show no sign of stopping.

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A few days ago, a mother in Alberta, Canada come forth with a similar story after buying formula from Walmart that turned out to be flour. Emily Myrehaug’s son was five months old and preparing his formula has become routine for the new mother. However, she noticed something strange after opening a “new” container.

“I opened it and thought that was a weird color,” she said. “But it was in the middle of the nighttime. So I took my other formula and looked at it again the next day.”

Myrehaug sampled the off-colored baby formula and tasted flour. She was immediately glad the grogginess of three a.m. didn’t compel her to ignore her gut and feed the flour to the baby.

“Terrifying,” she said in an interview. “I was so shook up by it. I mean, what if I had given it to him? I would never forgive myself if he got sick or… worse.” [2]

Walmart Canada is investigating the matter, as well as Similac, the brand of the tampered container. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency had taken the product for testing, and plan to release a public update soon. Since then, three more incidents of tampered formulas were reported, one by another Walmart branch. Police are investigating these cases for malicious intent.

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“I’m not blaming anyone,” said Myrehaug. “I just want to bring awareness to other parents. Always check, always look. Make sure the seals are on.

“Now, before I even leave the store, I open it up and I look.” [3]

A Message for Parents

Adeline is doing well now, but her mother, like Myrehaug, is sharing her story to warn other parents of tampered products.

“It’s happening and it’s not right,” Rogue said. “Yesterday she was a completely different baby.” [1]

When buying formula, ensure everything is sealed, and not damaged or opened. If the formula separates when mixed with water, it’s a sign it might be something else. If parents find any products with a broken seal, alert the store or the company as soon as possible. 

  1. Savannah Levins. Her 9-month-old refused to take her bottle. That’s when she found out her ‘formula’ was fake. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/her-9-month-old-refused-to-take-her-bottle-thats-when-she-found-out-her-formula-was-fake/275-22dac194-3362-478f-bfd9-afcf4f405d1e Aug 13, 2019
  2. Jesse Ferreras. Woman allegedly replaced baby formula with flour. Then a baby got sick: police https://globalnews.ca/news/3448676/jennifer-laplante-infant-formula-flour/ May 12, 2017
  3. Sarolta Saskiw. ‘Terrifying’: Mother claims baby formula she bought was flour https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2019/08/14/terrifying-mother-claims-baby-formula-she-bought-was-flour/ August 14, 2019[4] Sarolta Saskiw https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2019/08/15/police-investigating-baby-formula-that-was-potentially-tampered-with-at-edmonton-walmart/ August 15, 2019
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Sarah Biren
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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