The baby formula saga, explained

There is a shortage of baby formula in the United States.

baby drinking formula from a bottle

The crisis began in February of 2022, when several baby formula products from Abbot Nutrition were recalled worldwide following the death of an infant caused by a Cronobacter-sakazakii infection. As of June, there have been four hospitalizations and two more deaths. Then, that same production plant closed down again after flooding in the area. The second closure is expected to further impact the already-problematic shortage of baby formula that has plagued the United States since March.

What baby formula products were recalled and why?

According to the FDA, there have been several positive tests for Cronobacter from environmental samples taken within the Sturgis, Michican production plant. Internal records from Abbott Nutrition indicate that the company was aware of the Cronobacter contamination.

According to reports, the first infant died in February 2022 after consuming Similac baby formula. Thereafter, the company recalled Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered formula products with the following labels:

  • The first two digits of the code on the package are 22 through 37; and
  • The container contains “K8,” “SH,” or “Z2”; and
  • The use-by date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later

baby in the formula aisle grocery store

What is being done to lessen the negative effects of the shortage?

According to Datasembly, 31% of formula products were out of stock in April 2022. Inflation and supply chain shortages made the problem worse.

The FDA has reported that they continue to take significant action to increase the current supply of baby formula in the U.S. According to the FDA, other baby formula manufacturers are meeting or exceeding production levels to meet the current demand. It also helps that countries including England, Australia, Germany, and New Zealand, have sent over large shipments of baby formula.

According to reports, more baby formula was purchased in April than in January, the month before the Abbott recall. The FDA has outlined several tactics to meet demand, for example:

  • Meeting regularly with major baby formula manufacturers to help maximize their production
  • Expediting the review of notifications of manufacturing changes
  • Compiling data for in-stock rates on both a national and regional level in order to better understand regional availability
  • Streamlining the import entry review process for products coming from facilities outside the U.S.
  • Requesting that retailers consider placing purchase limits on some products in order to allow more people to get what they need

mom holding hand of sick baby

Signs and symptoms of Cronobacter infection

Cronobacter infections are usually very rare, but they can be deadly for infants. These infections can cause severe complications such as sepsis or meningitis. Parents and caregivers of infants should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Cronobacter infection:

  • Fever
  • Poor feeding
  • Excessive crying
  • Very low energy
  • Seizures

How to avoid Cronobacter infection

There are several ways to reduce the risk of Cronobacter infections:

  • Do not feed your baby any recalled powdered formula.
  • Do not use powdered formula if you cannot find the code on the package.
  • Do not attempt to make and feed homemade formula to infants.

Cronobacter infection is treated with the use of antibiotics. If your infant has been exposed and you suspect the development of sepsis or meningitis, they should be hospitalized immediately.

If your infant has been exposed to Cronobacter or other tainted foods through the negligence of another individual or company, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced foodborne illness attorneys at Allen & Allen today for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.