May 10, 2022 The shortage of infant formula in the United States appears to be getting worse and may remain so for some time.
About 40% of US infant formula supplies were out of stock at the end of April, according to Datasembly, a retail tracking group. That’s up from 31% at the start of April.
Unfortunately, we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon, Ben Reich, CEO of Datasembly, said in a statement.
Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have continued to bring volatility to the category and continue to be one of the hardest hit products on the market, he said. declared.
Overall, 26 states have stock-out rates of 40% to 50%. The states with the worst shortages with stock-out rates of 50% or more include Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Some metropolitan areas have even higher rates. The out-of-stock rate in San Antonio, TX soared to 57%, while in Tennessee, rates in Memphis and Nashville reached 52%. In Houston and Des Moines, IA, out-of-stock rates are 50%.
The shortages are partly due to a recall this year by Abbott Nutrition, which is a major producer of infant formula. A key production facility in Michigan has been shut down and is being investigated by the FDA and CDC after reports of contaminated formula linked to the deaths of at least two infants.
The recall included certain lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, which are major brands of powdered infant formula made by Abbott.
The unprecedented scale of this infant formula recall has serious consequences for babies and new parents, Brian Dittmeier, JD, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, Told The New York Times.
The National WIC Association is a nonprofit organization that provides education and support for the United States Food and Nutrition Services Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Abbott Nutrition is the exclusive supplier to more than half of WIC agencies nationwide, he said.
Unlike other food recalls, infant formula supply shortages affect a major, if not exclusive, source of nutrition for babies, Dittmeier said.
Major retailers, including CVS, Target, Walgreens and Walmart, continue to limit formula purchases to between three and five units per transaction, according to at CNN Business. Customers are posting pictures of empty store shelves and signs with limits on social media.
In mid-April, Abbott said in a report that the company was working to increase supply by focusing on producing formulas at other facilities and bringing in formulas from Europe. On Saturday, the company told CNN Business it was working with the FDA to resume operations at the Michigan plant.
We continue to make progress on corrective actions and will implement additional actions as we work to address items related to the product recall, Abbott said.
What parents should do
Parents have struggled to find formula this year, especially formula for specific nutritional needs. Parents travel to other states, ask for help on social media and trade extra supplies for The Guardian.
The shortage has become so severe that Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called the situation a national crisis on Monday.
The shortage of infant formula is a national crisis, hitting poor mothers and children the hardest, he wrote. in a Twitter post. The FDA needs to step in immediately, be transparent, explain how it will restart production, and give parents a timeline.
In some social media groups, families alert each other to restocked stocks, bargains and specialty formulas for allergies or certain health needs, the Time reported.
To help mitigate the impact of shortages, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises purchasing no more than one supply of formula for 10 days to 2 weeks. The group also tips for emergencies:
- Contact your pediatrician and ask if he can provide you with a box from a local formula rep.
- Contact your local WIC office, who may be able to suggest places to check.
- Look for infant formula at small retail outlets and pharmacies, which may not be out of stock when larger stores are.
- Buy formula milk online from reputable distributors and pharmacies. But do not import formula from other countries as it is not reviewed by the FDA.
- For most babies, you can switch to any available formula, including generic store brands, unless the child needs a specific hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula such as ‘EleCare.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against several ideas, such as adding water to formula or making homemade formula. The group says:
- Although it may be tempting to dilute the formula to stretch it, never do it. Dilute the formula is dangerous and can cause nutritional imbalances.
- Do not make homemade formula. Although online recipes may seem healthy or cheaper, they are unsafe and do not meet nutritional requirements. Some infant deaths have been reported from the use of homemade formula.
- Milk and milk alternatives are not recommended. Vegetable milks, especially almond milk, are low in protein and minerals.
- Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants. But if nothing else is available, toddler formula is safe for a few days for babies who are almost a year old.
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