What’s Behind the Baby Formula Shortage? – As if high prices for gas and other energy products aren’t bad enough, Americans have another very real problem impacting millions across the nation. On Wednesday, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone announced hearings will be held later this month on the continued baby formula shortage across the United States.
The shortages, which have been worsening since February, are affecting millions of parents across the country.
“The focus of this hearing will be on better understanding the causes of the shortage, what has been done to increase production and supply thus far, and what more still needs to be done to ensure access to safe formula across the nation,” Pallone said, adding that the problem demands the “immediate attention” of Congress.
What’s Behind the Shortage?
Supermarkets are struggling to give customers the baby formula they need because of at least two factors.
The first was a February 17 recall from Abbott Laboratories, one of the top suppliers of baby formula in the United States. The recall affected significant name brands of baby formula, including EleCare, Alimentum, and Similac. All products manufactured at the Sturgis, Michigan plant were recalled after several infants who consumed the product experienced cronobacter bacterial infections.
The infections were so bad that at least two children died and many more were left unwell.
All retailers began recalling the formula, and have since implemented limited purchases for the product both in-store and online.
A physical shortage of baby formula products combined with supply chain problems, and parents often find themselves searching multiple supermarkets, pharmacies, and other stores to find even one box of formula.
FDA Tells Parents Not to Worry
Despite horror stories of parents left unable to purchase food for their children being told by several major national news outlets, the Food and Drug Administration says that sales of baby formula have actually increased.
The horror stories are backed up by the data, too, with retail software company Datasembly revealing that 31% of formula products were out of stock all over the country as of last month.
According to the FDA, however, sales data shows that there is enough to go around – as long as people choose different brands.
“The FDA continues to take several significant actions to help increase the current supply of infant formula in the U.S. In fact, other infant formula manufacturers are meeting or exceeding capacity levels to meet current demand,” the agency says.
“Notably, more infant formula was purchased in the month of April than in the month prior to the recall.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.