Robitussin Is Recalling Cough Medicine Due To Microbial Contamination—What That Means

The Robitussin Recall, ExplainedSmith Collection/Gado - Getty Images
  • The maker of Robitussin has issued a recall due to “microbial contamination.”

  • Microbial contamination means that a microbe has gotten into something that it shouldn’t.

  • Using the affected products can result in fungemia, a serious medical condition.

Haelon, the maker of Robitussin, is recalling certain bottles of the popular cough suppressant due to “microbial contamination.”

On Wednesday, the company announced via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that select batches of the brand’s Robitussin Honey CF Max Day Adult and Robitussin Honey CF Max Nighttime Adult were contaminated. “In immunocompromised individuals, the use of the affected product could potentially result in severe or life-threatening adverse events such as fungemia or disseminated fungal infection,” the statement reads.

While the announcement also says that life-threatening infections are unlikely in people who aren’t immunocompromised, it does note that the risk of an infection requiring medical treatment “cannot be completely ruled out.”

Additionally, the company stated that it has not received any reports of people getting sick from using the impacted bottles of cough syrup.

But what is microbial contamination, and how can fungemia happen as a result? Here’s what you need to know:

Which Robitussin products have been recalled?

Eight lot numbers of Robitussin Honey CF Max Day Adult (40 oz and 8 oz) and Robitussin Honey CF Max Nighttime Adult (8 oz) have been recalled. For Robitussin Honey CF Max Day Adult (40 oz), the affected lot number is T10810 with the expiration date of October 31, 2025. As for Robitussin Honey CF Max Day Adult (8 oz), lot numbers include T08730, T08731, T08732, and T08733 with the expiration date of May 31, 2025, and T10808 with the expiration date of September 30, 2025. In regards to Robitussin Honey CF Max Nighttime Adult (8 oz), the recalled lot numbers are T08740 and T08742 with the expiration date of June 30, 2026. Consumers can locate the lot number and expiration date on the bottom right corner of the Robitussin label.

More information on the recall, including how to tell if you have a contaminated product, can be seen here.

What is microbial contamination?

At a basic level, microbial contamination means that a microbe has gotten into something that it shouldn’t be in, according to Microbial Contamination and Food Degradation, part of the Handbook of Food Bioengineering series. In the case of something a person ingests, it has the risk of making you sick.

What are the sources of microbial contamination?

There are four sources that usually cause microbial contamination, including a bacteria, virus, fungi, or parasite. These can get into a product through a range of ways, including contaminated water or soil, or during transportation or processing of a product, per the National Library of Medicine.

What is fungemia?

Fungemia is the presence of fungi or yeasts in the blood—the most common type is called candidemia, candedemia, or invasive candidiasis.

What are the symptoms for fungemia?

People who develop invasive candidiasis are usually already sick with something else, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. However, they can also have symptoms like fever and chills that don’t get better with antibiotics. Patient may also have symptoms if the infection spreads to other parts of the body, like the heart, brain, eyes, bones, or joints, the CDC says.

How serious is fungemia?

Fungemia is a serious medical condition. In the case of invasive candidiasis, it can be deadly, according to the CDC.

How do you treat fungemia?

Fungemia is treated with antifungal medication, usually through an IV, the CDC says. Treatment usually lasts for two weeks after the symptoms have gotten better. However, if the infection has spread to other parts of the body, it may need to be treated for longer, according to the CDC.

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