On February 17, 20202, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning concerning Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella infections in infants who consumed baby formula manufactured by one Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan. The products recalled included certain cans of Similac PM 60/40 (lot code 27032K80) and cases of Similac PM 60/40 with a “lot code” of 27032K800. The recall grew to include Similac, EleCare, and Alimentum powdered baby formulas with:
- with the code’s first two digits being between 22 through 37; and
- the code includes K8, SH, or Z2; and
- they can have an expiration date of 4-1-2022 or later.
The FDA’s inspection of Abbott Nutrition’s manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, found the plant to be contaminated with Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella.
Now, almost 30% of popular infant formula brands are sold out, causing stores to ration sales, according to a report issued by Datasembly. Datasembly evaluated baby formula supplies at approximately 11,000 stores throughout the United States.
Ben Reich, the CEO of Datasembly, stated that this shortage represents a higher level of shortage than any other product. Reich also stated that issues such as inflation and supply chain shortages would continue to make infant formula more difficult to distribute to consumers.
The supplies of baby formula were in short supply prior to the recall. Krishnakumar Davey, IRI President of Strategic Analytics, stated that the nation’s ten largest retailers had over 20% of infant formula out of stock by the first week of January 2022.
National chain stores such as CVS and Walgreens have limited consumers to three infant formula products per person to help with inventory. Consumers with infants are stating that searching for Similac and other popular baby formula products has become a full-time job.
Fortunately, manufacturers are responding by ramping up infant and toddler formula production. However, the increased production may take several weeks to make a difference on store shelves.
The U.S. states hit hardest by the baby formula shortages include Minnesota, Connecticut, Iowa, Hawaii, Maryland, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. These states have reached shortage levels of around 40%.
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