Stores across the country have experienced formula shortages in recent months, with many limiting the number of formula packs that can be purchased at one time.
The shortage was widely attributed to a formula recall in mid-February, according to a spokesperson for Mead Johnson Nutrition in Evansville, Indiana, a manufacturing company that produces “Enfamil” formula.
The recall came from Abbott, which issued an announcement on Feb. 17 that the company would recall powdered products made at its Sturgis, Michigan plant, which include Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.
Stores restricting formula purchases include CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.
“We continue to closely monitor industry-wide formula supply constraints to ensure product is available to our customers,” a Target spokesperson said. “We currently have certain online product limitations in place.”
CVS and Walgreens, likewise, have announced a limit of three baby formulas per purchase in-store and online.
“Due to vendor challenges and increased customer demand, we have added a limit,” a CVS spokesperson said. “We continue to work with our formula suppliers to resolve this issue, and we regret any inconvenience this causes to our customers.”
Walmart and Kroger did not respond to a request for comment.
The supply shortage has also created challenges for local Kentucky health departments, which provide formula to WIC recipient families, according to Merritt Bates-Thomas, public information officer for the Green District Health Department. River.
The WIC program, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, according to the USDA, serves to protect the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to at age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referral to care health.
“It was very difficult,” Bates-Thomas said. “Anytime there is a disruption in what we provide, it can create problems for program participants.”
The health department not only continued to provide infant formula to WIC recipients, but also worked to complete package exchanges for those in possession of recalled formula, which was made even more difficult, a- she said, with a shortage of baby formula. some products.
Prior to the recall, Bates-Thomas said the percentage of Health Department WIC recipients receiving formula was 2.6 percent districtwide and 3.2 percent in Daviess County.
Following the recall, those numbers, she said, jumped to 14.84% district-wide and 15.61% in Daviess County.
GRDHD has been working since February to do parcel exchanges and continues to do so now, more than three months later.
“It’s just extended and it’s ongoing, so it’s really a constant for people trying to get these packages changed,” she said. “Package changes and formula approvals haven’t slowed down and continue to be a big part of every workday.”
Abbott voluntarily announced the recall, he said, after the company had four complaints of Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport in infants who had consumed powdered infant formula made at the Sturgis plant.
“We perform routine testing for Cronobacter sakazakii and other pathogens at our manufacturing facilities,” the company said in its announcement. “During testing at our Sturgis, Michigan plant, we found evidence of Cronobacter sakazakii in the plant in non-product contact areas. We found no evidence of Salmonella Newport. This investigation is ongoing. »
Cronobacter sakazakii is commonly found in the environment and in various areas of the home. It can cause fever, poor diet, excessive crying or low energy, and other serious symptoms.
According to the company, no Abbott liquid formula, powder formula or nutritional product from other facilities is affected by the recall.
On. On February 28, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an additional illness with exposure to powdered formula produced at Sturgis facilities.
All five — four Cronobacter infections and one Salmonella Newport infection — resulted in one hospitalization, and Cronobacter may have contributed to the deaths of two patients, according to the CDC.
Christie Netherton, [email protected], 270-691-7360