US runs out of baby formula supplies, considers importing to ease shortage

The United State appears to be running out of stock of baby formula products in the country and is now considering importation as an option to fill the gap.

This is coming a few months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers against using certain powdered infant formula products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility as a result of contamination concerns, which led the nation’s largest baby formula manufacturer to recall certain products.

According to Datasembly, a company that tracks retail data, 43% of baby formula supplies had gone out of stock at stores across the U.S. by the first week of May since the announcement.

Meanwhile, the White House has said it is taking steps to alleviate the shortage – including permitting more imports – and also preventing price gouging amid the shortage.

Back story

Four infants who consumed products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis were hospitalized with infections from the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii while two of the infants died.
As a result, the plant was closed and its formulas; Similac PM 60/40, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powered formulas were recalled to allow the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to properly investigate the cause of death.
The FDA however exempted the product for individuals specifically needing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of certain speciality and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis that have been on hold at the facility suggesting that consumers who cannot avoid taking it to look at the lot code, a multidigit number on the bottom of a container of products

What you should know

The CDC could not identify more bacteria-related cases and has thus closed its investigation. However, it appears it will take a while before the US completely recovers from the shortage.

Reuters reported that Perrigo Company PLC; a store-brand baby formula for Walmart Inc and Amazon, expects shortages and heightened demand to last for the year.
The company said its facilities are now running at 115% of capacity making only four items; the store-brand versions of Similac Pro Sensitive and Pro Advance and Enfamil Gentle Ease and Infant, at the request of the FDA to meet up demands.
Murray Kessler, President and CEO of Perrigo said, “Perrigo is working with retailers including Walmart and Target Corp so they get something each week. Though Retailers’ allocations are based on an average of what the retailers received prior to this crisis.
“We have stepped up and are killing ourselves to do everything we can,”

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