Baby Formula Shortages Impact Families in Park County
Written by Caleb Nelson on May 17, 2022
The national baby formula shortage is affecting Park County. Inventory at Walmart and Albertsons mirrors the situation across the country – a shockingly low supply. Retailers like Walmart have been forced to limit the sale of formula to “5 units per child for each customer” per day.
The first formula recall was announced in February when the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition (based in Michigan), voluntarily recalled products of Similac, Elecare, and Alimentum citing concerns over a possible bacterial outbreak.
Several infants became sick with a foodborne pathogen because of formula products made at the Sturgis, MI plant according to the Food and Drug Administration. The illness prompted an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention into a pathogen that causes neonatal meningitis and “necrotizing enterocolitis.” The mortality rate is unusually high. The pathogen is associated with powered infant formula.
Nationally, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hopes to end the infant formula shortage soon. According to a press release, FNS urges, “states to adopt flexibilities to support families amid recall.”
FNS hopes states will “take advantage” of programs offered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to help families during the recall.
Kim Deti, Public Information Officer for the Wyoming Department of Health, says her office has been involved with the infant formula shortage mostly in relation to WIC clients. According to Deti, her office has a “quite limited role” regarding the shortages and doesn’t have an “overall picture” of the situation.
Deti says the state has worked with WIC clients to expand consumer options. “One of the things we’ve done, for example – if people quality for WIC they get a card, a shopping card, and they to go the store to buy certain foods and items that are approved for WIC – what we did is expand the things that are approved,” Deti explains.
If families find themselves without enough baby formula, Deti urges folks to “consider their alternatives safely.” “Look at reputable sources of information about potential short-term alternatives like those from the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Deti recommends.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release, “We’re acutely aware that the ongoing recall has left many parents and caregivers concerned about access to formula and how they will feed their babies.”
“Our team is committed to the health and safety of all Americans and is calling on states to act immediately to offer maximum flexibility, information, and support to WIC participants. Meanwhile, USDA will continue the work we started in February, working not only within our department, but across the federal government, suppliers and partners to end this infant formula crisis as quickly as possible,” Vilsack said.