In February, Abbott, the largest producer of baby formula in the U.S., and the maker of Similac, was ordered by the FDA to shut down their production facility which produces Similac, EleCare and several other leading powdered baby formulas. Cronobacter bacteria had been found in infants who consumed formulas produced at the plant. Two infants became sick, and two died.
Three and a half months later, the Sturgis, Michigan facility is still silent, with no infant formula rolling off the production line.
This has drastically reduced the availability of formula across the U.S. and left parents scrambling to feed their newborns.
In a statement last week, Abbott said it can resume production within two weeks if the FDA signs off. Once the facility reopens, it will take six to eight weeks before the product is available on shelves.
Unfortunately, other formula makers (Gerber, Perrigo and Mead Johnson) have not been able to make up for the loss of Abbott products.
This May issue of The Flame offers some resources for parents.
— Betty Long, RN, MHA, President/CEO, Guardian Nurses Health Advocates
Baby Formula Resources
- Gerber’s MyGerber Baby Expert: reach a certified nutrition or lactation consultant by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, web chat, or video call, who can help you identify a similar formula that may be more readily available.
- Abbott: Consumer Hotline: call 1-800-986-8540. Abbott’s urgent product request line. Ask your OBGYN or your infant’s pediatrician to submit an urgent product request by downloading and completing the form – PDF
- Reckitt’s (makers of Enfamil). Customer Service line: call 1-800-BABY-123 (1-800-222-9123)
- United Way’s 2-1-1 Hotline. Dial 2–1-1 to be connected to a community resource specialist affiliated with United Way who may be able to help you identify food pantries and other charitable sources of local infant formula and baby food.
- Feeding America. Call your local food bank to ask whether they have infant formula and other supplies in stock.
- Human Milk Banking Association of North America: certain HMBANA-accredited milk banks are distributing donated breast milk to mothers in need; please note that some may require a prescription from a medical professional. Find an HMBANA-accredited milk bank
- WIC-ELIGIBLE FAMILIES: Contact your local WIC office to identify or obtain additional sources of infant formula nearby.
- Call your pediatrician to see if they have in-office samples or can suggest a similar formula that may be more readily available in stores and is nutritionally similar to your infant’s typical formula.
- You should NOT water down formula. Don’t discard formula unless it is expired or is part of the recall. Check your formula’s lot code to see whether or not it was affected by the recall.
- You can find more guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- For additional information, please check out this website by Nemours Health as well as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with resources for locating safe formula.