Baby Formula Shortage Is Real, Media Realizes Late
Baby Formula Shortage Is Real, Media Realizes Late
For the last couple of months, there has been a lack of baby formula on the shelves.
This is more than just a supply chain issue, and it is causing real problems and real panic among parents who need that formula. So, what happened?
First, one of the largest formula producers, Abbott Nutrition (makers of formula like Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare) did a voluntary recall of certain lots of their baby formulas back on February 17th, over concerns of bacterial contamination in their Michigan factory. The FDA then boosted the recall notice, and noted that four infants suffered bacterial infections and two had died, though the connection to the Michigan plant has not yet been definitively confirmed.
With so many baby formula options being voluntarily pulled off the shelves, this led to a supply shortage that retailers couldn’t fill (not local stores, not Target, Walmart, or Amazon), and has caused panic among parents whose babies need specialized formula.
And until now, the mainstream media has been largely silent. There were a few exceptions like Fox Business, who covered the story on April 18th, and mothers sounding the alarm on Twitter. One of these mothers was Bethany Mandel, who pointed out on April 26th that this baby formula shortage should be a national emergency.
Formula is out of stock across the board. In California, Jenny Erikson, a mother of five, told me, “I’m getting worried. My 8-month-old relies on it for her primary source of nutrition, and it’s been spotty finding on and off for a couple of months now. This week alone, my Amazon shipment was inexplicably delayed, and the local Costco is out of stock. How am I supposed to feed my baby if I can’t find formula?”
That worry is fueling increasing desperation. The problem is exacerbated by scared parents buying as much formula as they can within the limits set by every major retail chain. For them, it feels a lot like the beginning of the pandemic, with quantity limits set by stores on the number of canisters customers are able to purchase at a time.”
You would think with stories like these proliferating across the country that this particular shortage would be front-page news in every media market. That it would be the first question the president and his press secretary are asked at news conferences. The possibility of massive baby formula shortages in the United States of America was inconceivable, and yet, it’s no longer.”
And Mandel was quite blunt as to why both government and media have largely ignored the story.
The last two years of COVID-19 have shown many things about our priorities as a nation, and one of the most glaring is how much of an afterthought children and families are.”
Children are seen as unimportant, and thus overlooked; they’re considered an inconvenience instead of a national priority and natural resource. That’s why, in the face of an alarming shortage of the only form of food millions of American babies need, families have been met by total indifference.”
Fewer than 35% of American babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months old and just 15% of American babies are breastfed at age 1; the others rely on formula as their primary source of nutrition. Breastfeeding activists bemoan those numbers, but they are the reality, and the reality is, these babies need access to adequate nutrition.”
In allowing this to happen, we have abandoned American parents, who are frantically combing empty formula shelves in stores nationwide. They’ve been left to figure this out on their own, and conversations about DIY formula, a dangerous proposition, are popping up in parenting social media spaces. Formula is a modern miracle, with nutrients carefully calibrated for what babies need to grow and thrive.”
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. America is, quite simply, not measuring up.”
And then the draft decision from Dobbs dropped into the media’s collective laps, and the left began howling about how much they wanted to be able to keep the right to kill a baby in the womb. Suddenly, the media has “discovered” the baby formula shortage story. CBS News, CNN, and the New York Times have all now published pieces within the last two days about the shortage – CNN and the NYT jumping on the bandwagon just TODAY. Yes, they covered the recall, or published a puff piece on “where to find formula” before, but it never made the top of the news before today.
And then there are the people who issue snap judgements and need to be corrected as to why baby formula is so important.
Exactly zero people responding to the formula shortage with “Why don’t they just breastfeed?” Have ever actually breastfed. Because if they had, they’d know there is no “just” about it. Babies need food and this is an emergency.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) May 8, 2022
Breastfeeding takes two people to make it work – mother and baby. If one of those people has problems, then it doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. The mother may not produce enough milk, she may be on medication that keeps her milk from being safe, she may have had a mastectomy, etc, etc, etc. The baby may have latching issues, be a preemie that needs specialized feeding help, or just not react well to breast milk. I was fortunate enough to be able to nurse all four of my children with few issues. Other moms are not so fortunate. Their babies should not be starved just because breastfeeding didn’t work for them.
Some parents are even resorting to buying formula off eBay.
The manufacturer of Ashley Hernandez’s preferred baby formula for her two girls said it was out of stock on its website. Listings on eBay showed it would cost her up to $120 for a single can. So when she found a seller online offering 10 cans for $40 each, she expressed her desperation.
“I have two children,” Ms. Hernandez, 35, of Dallas, began her message. “I cannot find it. I can purchase this today. I can pay cash.”
Ms. Hernandez said that her daughters, one 6 months old and the other 3 years old, both need such specialty formula.”
The seller she messaged sold her the 10 cans but that will last only about five or six weeks, she estimated. The formula she usually buys, EleCare, was one of the Abbott products recalled in February, Ms. Hernandez said.”
The New York Times story also notes that Abbott was the “exclusive supplier for more than half” of the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Programs across the country. This means that, like so many other shortages in the country, this baby formula shortage is hitting those who can least afford it the hardest. And the federal government? The state governments? Where are they? You would think this would be a quick way to score political points for either side of the aisle. Except that the Michigan plant has not yet restarted manufancturing formula, so this is not a problem that government can actually solve.
Abbott told CNN in a statement Saturday it is working closely with the FDA to resume operations in its Michigan plant.”
“We continue to make progress on corrective actions and will be implementing additional actions as we work toward addressing items related to the recent recall. In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant formula by prioritizing infant formula production at our facilities that provide product to the US market,” Abbott said in a statement to CNN Business.”
So what should families do in the meantime? Many moms are using social media to look for formula, or having family members even ship formula from other states. This is a crisis situation that really should be addressed by public health authorities. If only they weren’t so busy trying to hang on to whatever power they have left, and hadn’t squandered all their moral authority over the last two years. And the media is hyper-focused on killing babies, not feeding them. So, if you value these little lives, find a way to help if you can in your local community. It could be as simple as checking your own local store shelves for what is available.
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