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Amid Catastrophic Shortage, Baby Formula Companies Are Making This Change to Products

They hope to increase supply as families rush to find formula.

An infant formula shortage across the United States is prompting production facilities to change the way that they're operating.

Abbott Nutrition, the largest infant formula manufacturer in the nation, initiated a voluntary recall of several lines of its powdered formula in February, which came after four infants fell ill and two died from the products.

This has left families scrambling to find their children's formula—especially those that rely on specialty formulas for allergies or other conditions.

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"President Biden has directed his administration to work urgently to ensure that during the Abbott Nutrition voluntary recall, infant formula is safe and available for families across the country," a White House press release said. "Today, President Biden spoke with retailers and manufacturers, including Wal-Mart, Target, Reckitt, and Gerber, to discuss ways we can all work together to do more to help families access infant formula."

Manufacturers typically make many different sizes of the same type of infant formula. One way that formula producers hope to make it more accessible is to limit the number of can sizes that are being offered. Simplifying production will help to stabilize the overall volume of formula available on the market, the White House said.

According to the USDA, about half of infant formula nationwide is purchased by people using the Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits. Until the recall, the U.S. produced 98% of the world's infant formula. Key import countries that the U.S. gets formula from include Mexico, Chile, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

"Given the production and distribution issues leading to local short supplies of infant formula, the FDA will, in the coming days, announce specific new steps it is taking concerning importing certain infant formula products from abroad," the White House press release said. "The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to monitor the situation and identify other ways it can support the safe and rapid increase in the production and distribution of baby formula."

For more information on the formula recall, check out A Shortage of This Essential Baby Food Is Getting Worse.

Kristen Warfield
Kristen Warfield is the weekend editor for Eat This, Not That! and is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s journalism program in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Read more