Health Department provides update on national infant formula shortage

Officials offer tips on keeping families safe during ongoing crisis

Officials with the Department of Health in Martin County are monitoring the current infant formula shortage and taking the life-threatening issue very seriously.

On May 12, State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf regarding the formula shortages affecting some of Florida’s most vulnerable populations. The local Department of Health seeks to ensure Floridians are kept up to date on this issue and have the correct information on how to protect their families, a release states.

When the initial recall was issued by Abbott Nutrition in February, the health department immediately reached out to retailers that accept the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits to recommend ordering an alternative supply of formula. For medically complex children that depend on medical specialty formula, the Health Department found alternative products to offset the shortage.

The current recall doesn’t affect Florida’s primary WIC milk-based formula, but the shutdown of the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Mich., is causing a strain on the entire formula market. In a recent press release from Abbott, the company stated they could restart their factory within two weeks and get products to shelves six to eight weeks after the restart.

For Florida families in need of certain metabolic formulas, Abbott continues to release these products on an as-needed basis with a referral from a healthcare professional. These products were not included in the recall and have been tested and comply with all product release requirements before distribution. Impacted families should contact their healthcare provider or local WIC office to ensure they are getting the necessary formula, the release says.

To protect your family, the Health Department recommends:

  • Choose an infant formula that is safe. For more information on choosing a safe infant formula, visit the CDC and FDA pages on the topic.
  • Do not make homemade infant formula. Visit the FDA’s page for more information.
  • Do not buy formula online that comes from outside the United States. This formula could be counterfeit, including a fake labels with a wrong use-by-date.
  • Properly prepare and store infant formula. For information on proper preparation and storage, visit the CDC’s page.
  • Properly clean, sanitize and store infant feeding items. Visit the CDC’s page for more information.
  • Always wash your hands. For information on how and when to wash your hands, visit the CDC’s page.

 WHAT IS RECALLED

On Feb. 17, Abbott Nutrition initiated a voluntary recall of certain powdered infant formulas produced in their Sturgis, Mich. facility. The FDA issued a public health advisory to alert consumers to avoid purchasing or using recalled formulas.

Impacted products within the recalled lot may include Similac PM 60/40,

Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. Impacted lots will start with a 22 through 37, not including the letter at the beginning. Example: L31465SH00.

Check to see if you have recalled formula by:

  • Reviewing the lot number on the bottom of your package.
  • Checking the lot number on the Abbott website.
  • Visiting Abbott’s website.
  • Calling the company at 1-800-986-8540.
  • Do not feed your baby recalled formula. If the lot number on your formula does not start with a 22 through 37, your formula is not impacted.
  • Do not throw away recalled formula. Return it to the store for a refund or exchange or call the company at 1-800-986-8540.

About the Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts. For more information, please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

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