Family goes to Chicago to find baby formula amid shortage

SOUTHFIELD, Mich (WXYZ) – A nationwide shortage of formula has left Detroit families struggling to feed their babies.

Empty store shelves and signs dividing supplies are a sight many have not seen since the early days of the pandemic. But moms on the Detroit subway say it’s been an ongoing crisis.

“What if she drank her last bottle of wine?” Ashley Rippey asked.

Rippey said she spends hours online looking for a store that stocked her daughter’s sensitive stomach formula, and if she’s lucky, one in seven stores.

“It’s ridiculous. I don’t mean to cry, I don’t mean to start getting emotional but when there’s no other option left to feed your baby, what are my options,” Rippey said.

“It’s been a bit frustrating and it’s sad,” said Dymon Williams, whose infant Mason had a milk allergy.

Williams, after many failed formula tests, finally found the right formula for her stomach, but after running out of samples from her doctor, she quickly realized that the brand was nearly impossible to find. in stores.

“We had to get a family member from Chicago to find it for us and bring it down here,” Williams said.

The day before her cousin saved her, Williams said they were forced to feed her 6-week-old son with food they knew he was allergic to, leaving him irritable, fussy and constipated. And she fears in a few days they may have to do the same.

“We only got four cans from down there, and the milk didn’t last long. Williams could only last two and a half days.

Kevin Ketels, an associate professor at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, said: “We’ve been in a bad situation before with access to infant formula and Abbott’s recall just made it worse. for the worse”.

Ketels said a large formula recall earlier this year was one of the reasons store shelves were empty, with 31% of formula products out of stock nationwide.

According to Ketels, Abbott has already begun shipping formula products to the states to fill the gap, and other companies are looking to stretch supplies. But he said the solution could take weeks if not months.

“Hopefully the company can ramp up production quickly and we can avoid the current severe shortage, but we won’t be able to get rid of the general shortage just because of the pandemic. ‘ said Ketels.

Meanwhile, families must become resourceful. Post on social media to see if anyone has more samples, or reach out to family members in other states to join the search.

In response to this story, an Abbott spokesperson contacted 7 Action News with the following statement:

We are aware that Abbott’s Similac infant formula recall has exacerbated the industry-wide shortage of infant formula supply and we deeply regret the concern and the impact this is having on parents, carers and healthcare providers. We are doing everything we can to solve that problem. Nationwide, we are prioritizing production of infant formula products to help replenish market supply, and shipping product daily from our FDA registered facility I live in Cootehill, Ireland. All of these products are being replenished regularly and in some cases daily. We are already starting to see this product on retail shelves. The actions we are taking to address supplies include:

  • Increased production of Similac formula at our other FDA-registered facilities
  • Bringing Similac Advance into the US from an FDA-registered manufacturing site in Europe, including daily shipments of the product
  • Prioritize production of some other Abbott liquid products for Similac and Alimentum to provide more ready-to-eat infant formula
  • Work with USDA and state agencies to provide authorization for parents to receive formula from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program with products other Similac products for free, including products from other manufacturers
  • Contact other manufacturers for information on supply constraints for special formulations so they can address demand
  • Interact with healthcare providers to identify potential alternative formulations, whenever we can

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