The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) today advised users of a nutritional product called Portagen, with the batch code BMC17 marked on the bottom of cans and an expiry date of January 2003, to stop using the product.

ANZFA has issued this advice after a premature infant in the US died of a rare form of meningitis after being tube-fed Portagen from this batch.

A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention associates the infection with the bacterium Enterobacter sakazakii found in cans of Portagen powder with the batch code BMC17.

ANZFA's MD Ian Lindenmayer said that as the product was manufactured in February 2001 and importation to Australia stopped around July 2001, few cans of Portagen from this batch are likely to still be on retailers' shelves.

"Portagen is a nutritional product for adults, toddlers and infants with rare digestive diseases that prevent them from digesting or absorbing fats," Lindenmayer said. "It is usually obtained from pharmacies and hospitals on prescription, but we believe that some may have been sold through other outlets.

"Even though Portagen is not being imported into Australia at the moment, we believe that some pharmacies, other retailers, hospitals and individuals may still be holding some of batch BMC17 and we strongly advise them to discard stocks."

Consumers are advised to return the product to the retailer from which it was purchased for a possible refund.

Portagen is manufactured in the United States by Mead Johnson Nutritionals.