In the US, parental dismay clashes with baby milk shortages

We are talking about problems with the supply, aggravated by the closure of the plant manufacturer Abbott. The case took a political turn.

“Eerie”, “annoying”. This is an unimaginable stress situation for many American parents: the United States is experiencing a very rare shortage of baby milk. We are talking about problems with the supply, aggravated by the closure of the plant manufacturer Abbott.

This has been going on for months, says Sarah Khan, a mother of three, aged 10, 7 and 6 months. “As soon as my baby was born I noticed there was a problem and he will be 7 months old next week”she told AFP. She then describes her obstacle course to find several boxes of powdered milk, her anguish in the face of empty shelves at CVS and Walgreens or Target supermarkets, whether in or around Washington DC. She held on thanks to her friends and family, who sent her milk cartons whenever they found them, from Boston, New York, or Baltimore. “It’s absurd”she continues, remembering the times when she even imported milk from Germany.

The situation really got worse when on February 17, after the death of two babies, manufacturer Abbott announced “voluntary review” at its milk powder plant in Michigan, including Similac, which is used by millions of American families. An investigation confirmed the availability of milk powder, but production has yet to resume, exacerbating shortages that have already been caused by supply chain problems and labor shortages. Out of stock infant formula reached 43% at the end of last week, up 10% from the April average, according to data provider Datasembly.

“We had no choice but to switch to plant-based milk”

Steve Homan, father of two from San Diego, California.

“It’s very frustrating because the problem didn’t happen overnight”Olivia Espinosa was indignant. In San Diego, California, Olivia Espinosa and Steve Hochman are the parents of two children, including three-week-old Maya, who is lactose intolerant. “We had no choice but to switch to plant-based milk”, for lack of an alternative, he said. Typically, hospitals and pediatricians provide parents with many samples to find the best one for their child. But there are few who still have them in stock. The father emphasizes how frustrating it is for his daughter to not be able to try another milk that would probably be more nutritious. This shortage is “extremely frustrating, especially when you have an infant with very specific needs.”continues his wife, who says she has difficulty breastfeeding and producing enough milk.

Even for children who do not have special sensitivity, it is difficult, adds Sarah Khan. “It’s not so easy” change the milk, she said. The baby should like the taste of the new milk and should not cause other problems such as constipation. And in addition to supply issues, parents are complaining about costs while online sellers have doubled or even tripled their prices. “We know that many consumers do not have access to the infant formula and essential health products they are used to.”Robert Kaliff of the US Drug Agency (FDA) said in a statement Tuesday evening. “We do everything in our power to ensure that the right product is available where and when you need it”he said.

On Wednesday, Abbott said “I deeply regret the situation”. “Since the recall, we have been working to increase supply to our other FDA-registered facilities, including shipping Similac from our facility in Cootehill, Ireland, and manufacturing more Similac and Alimentum fluid., assured the group. Now the case is taking a political turn. “I demand action from the FDA (by order of the administration) Biden to deal with this crisis.”, launched Republican Eliza Stefanik on Twitter. More to the right, Marjorie Taylor Green took offense on Twitter that “Congress wants to send almost $40 billion to Ukraine while American moms can’t find baby milk”. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Appreciated These Shortcomings “scandalous and unacceptable”. On Twitter, he called on Joe Biden “get to grips with the situation”. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki assured CNN on Monday that the Biden administration is working “day and night” find solutions.