For many, the infant formula shortage persists

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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FISHERSVILLE, Va. (WHSV) - August marks about six months since the infant formula shortage began.

A formula plant was shut down in Michigan after reports of illness and recalls, and that spurred shortages of products. Finally, supply is catching up, but many families are still finding bare store shelves.

“We’re starting to see that Similac Sensitive and Similac Advanced are coming back into the market. There are some others, Similac Total Comfort and Similac Spit Up, that have not come back onto the market in a robust fashion,” said Paula Garrett, Director of the Division of Community Nutrition for the Virginia Department of Health.

The plant reopened in June, but it was soon struck by severe weather which impacted production. July 1 marked its official reopening.

Garrett said the shortage was exacerbated by the fact that Virginia WIC Program has a deal with Abbott Laboratories. Families on WIC can get certain formulas as part of the program, but those products were often unavailable after the recall.

As a result, VDH made a deal to allow products by other production companies to be covered under WIC. Garrett said this shortage has them looking at ways to improve long-term.

“How can we be more flexible to provide alternatives for families?” she said.

Garrett also had advice for families who struggle to find formula.

“Before families go to the grocery store and find that the product is not on the shelf, spend some time making some phone calls to your local grocery store to see if the product is there before you leave the house,” she said.

Consistent with previous guidance, Garrett said families should not attempt to make their own formula.

“People have talked about what their parents did or what their grandparents did in making homemade formulas, ‘and we turned out fine.’ That may have been OK at that point, but the formulas that we are discussing are the more specialized formulas that children who have some special health needs are receiving. This is not something you can make up in your everyday kitchen,” Garrett said.

If you need help finding formula or want to learn more about it, click here to visit VDH’s website.

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