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Baby food shortage continues as Congress seeks supply from other countries

Avoid scammers selling formula or making your own
baby formula
Posted at 7:54 AM, May 16, 2022

BALTIMORE — A former FDA commissioner is blaming the current nationwide baby formula shortage on the U.S. government.

Stores are having a difficult time keeping baby formula in stock since Abbott Nutrition, a major supplier of baby formula, shut down its Michigan factory in February over bacterial contamination concerns.

According to Datasembly, the out-of-stock rate for formula is 43% nationwide and slightly higher in Maryland at about 47%. The former head of the FDA said that should have prompted more aggressive action from the FDA to do something.

Parents across the country are struggling to find formula to feed their babies.

While the national out-of-stock rate averages about 43%, eight states and Washington D.C. are at least 50 percent out-of-stock of baby formula.

Those out-of-stock numbers can't keep up with the demand as about 70% of babies in the U.S. are formula-fed.

A former FDA commissioner appeared on CBS's Face the Nation over the weekend and he blames the baby formula shortage on a lack of action by the U.S. government.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb served as commissioner of the FDA under former president Donald Trump.

Gottlied said there's a lack of resources for the agency overseeing the formula industry.

“This division at FDA is nine people and it was even fewer people when I was there. It’s grown in recent years, and we made some budget requests to increase the size of that group. So, the entire industry in this country is overseen by nine people. This has been an under-resourced part of the agency for a very long time and that's contributing, I think to these challenges,” Gottlied said.

Congress is working on an emergency funding bill to allow the U.S. to purchase formula from FDA approved facilities overseas to help get baby formula back on store shelves.

Speaker Of The House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said “there are four countries, Chile, Mexico, Ireland and the Netherlands, that have supply that might be available to us. The president is quite correct. We must do something as quickly as possible, but as safely as possible.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Elizabeth Snyder searched Facebook looking for baby formula for her sister-in-law Ashley when she got a message from an account saying they could help with 14 cans for about $50.

Ashley connected with the person and sent the money to a provided CashApp account and waited for the delivery.

After a few days Ashley called Snyder with the bad news that she not only did not get her formula, but the person who was supposed to sell it to her, took her money and blocked her.

Snyder said Ashely has not yet received a refund from CashApp but one good thing has come out of the ordeal.

“For the one bad egg we've experienced. on the new post I made last night there has been 10 good ones. Formula has come at me out of the wood works,” Snyder said.

Besides getting scammed online, healthcare providers warn parents to be careful with taking matters into their own hands.

ABC News Medical Contributor/Stanford Children's Health Dr. Alok Patel said “the biggest thing that parents need to avoid doing right now is trying to make that homemade formula or watered down formula both of which can be absolutely catastrophic, nutritionally poor children, even dangerous."