Temporary halt to production at the Public Mothers’ Milk Bank

Héma-Québec opts for a cautious preventative approach

Montréal, February 27, 2015 – On December 5, 2014, Héma-Québec notified Québec hospitals that it was interrupting the production and distribution of units of breast milk from its Public Mothers’ Milk Bank. Donor recruitment activities, as well as the collection of breast milk, are ongoing. Héma-Québec thanks the 543 mothers who continue to donate breast milk. This halt in production and distribution is a preventative measure motivated by the precautionary principle.

The temporary halt of activities at the milk bank is related to the withdrawal from service of two pasteurization machines used by Héma-Québec. Quality control results fluctuated, with 39.5% of products not meeting compliance standards and being rejected. This rejection rate — much higher than the anticipated rate of 8% — prevented Héma-Québec from providing a stable supply of breast milk to its clients.

All distributed products must meet compliance standards. Since these products are intended for a vulnerable client group, Héma-Québec preferred to avoid any risks and opted for a cautious preventative approach.

Corrective Measures

Due to major fluctuations in the number of units of breast milk rejected as non-compliant, Héma-Québec has deemed it necessary to maintain the halt in production and distribution until its teams identify and implement a permanent and sustainable solution that will ensure a continuous supply of product. These corrective measures will require several weeks. The processing and distribution of breast milk should resume in spring 2015.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the needs of the Québec population for safe, optimal-quality blood and blood products, human tissues, cord blood, mother’s milk and cellular products; and to develop and provide expertise and specialized, innovative services in the field of human biological products. Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, over 300,000 donor visits to blood drives per year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.

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