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Tennessee ranks #1 in baby formula shortage, FDA lists solutions

Tennessee tops the list for most empty shelves.
Baby formula shortage ending soon?
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - People are turning to a wide variety of solutions to feed their babies as the baby formula shortage lasts months and Tennessee tops the list for most empty shelves.

Parents have turned to social media groups, friends, pediatricians, even charities, like Helping Mamas Knoxville, for help. “Feeding your child is such a basic want and need,” Helping Mamas Knoxville Program Coordinator Melissa Barnett said.

The non-profit gets essential baby items to families, including infant formula.

“We know that this is not a need that can be filled any other way,” Barnett said.

Barnett said Helping Mamas Knoxville had stocked shelves of several different brands of baby formula in January, then the Similac recall happened the next month. “We took about 30 to 40 cans that were involved in that recall,” Barnett said, “That was gut wrenching.”

Supply chain issues and the shortage took a toll on everyone, including the charity.

“Now I feel like on a weekly basis, it’s ‘hey I can’t find this, my clients can’t find this do you have anything?’” Barnett said, “We know we’re not Amazon. We know we can’t, you know, just meet needs outside of what we’re getting donated, but we are sure trying.”

The Food and Drug Administration is tracking the supply across the country and directing deliveries to areas with the greatest need. “What they’re trying to do is increase supply by working with a range of manufacturers and what their capacity is to ensure that the kind of formula that was recalled where they’re able to help ensure it’s on the shelves,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

A spokesperson for FDA said it is doing everything in its power to get more formula on store shelves. The FDA is expanding operating hours at plants and making it easier for approved baby formula to be imported.

Abbott, the Similac maker, said the Michigan plant at the center of a recall could restart within two weeks, pending FDA approval.

If it’s allowed to re-open, experts said it will take at least six to eight weeks for its formula to be back on store shelves.

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