Baby Formula Shortages Continue Following Similac Recalls and Supply Chain Problems

Retailers continue to face a shortage of baby formula following the pandemic and recent recalls of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formula

An ongoing baby formula shortage originally caused by pandemic-related supply chain problems, may have been exacerbated by recent Similac recalls, leaving retailers with inadequate supplies throughout the United States.

Months after the Infant Nutrition Counsel of America (INCA) acknowledged Similac and Enfamil baby formula shortages throughout the U.S. earlier this year, some major chain stores, such as Walgreens, have begun rationing supplies of baby formula to customers, as nearly 30% of all brands are still sold out.

The COVID-19 pandemic was originally blamed for causing many of the supply chain problems earlier this year, resulting from labor shortages, lack of ingredients, Omicron outbreaks and other factors. However, a string of recalls involving Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formula contaminated with Salmonella, Cronobacter and other bacteria appear to have made things substantially worse.

Abbott Laboratories first announced the massive baby formula recall on February 17, following nationwide reports of illnesses and deaths among infants fed versions of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare manufactured at the same plant in Michigan.

Within days, reports began to surface that suggested the company knew about the Similac contamination problems at its facility since at least September 2021, when the Minnesota Department of Health began investigating a case involving an infant infected with Cronobacter. Two U.S. Senators have already launched an inquiry, asking why Abbott delayed issuing a recall or warning parents, and a number of Similac recall lawsuits have already been filed by parents of babies who suffered injuries.

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Similac Recall Lawsuit

Did your baby suffer Salmonella, Cronobacter or another infections after being fed recalled Similac, Alimentum or EleCare formula?

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Nationwide supplies of baby formula have become extremely strained following the recalls, with 11,000 stores reportedly indicating 30% of the most popular brands are sold out, and some large cities have seen more than half of their baby formula supply depleted. That number is up from 11% in November, according to an analysis by Datasembly, which conducted the survey.

In addition, baby formula shortages have driven price increases of more than 18% over the last year, and Walgreens recently announced it is limiting formula purchases to three per customer.

The Infant Nutrition Council of America is advising parents on what to do if they cannot find baby formula. The group advises parents check other stores, such as baby supply stores and drug stores if their regular local store is sold out. It also reminds them they can order baby formula online and advises them to buy the largest size possible, but to not horde supplies by buying more containers than they need.

The council also noted that manufacturers have indicated they are ramping up production to handle the shortfall, which also raises separate concerns given apparent manufacturing problems and safety failures that allowed formula to be distributed nationwide over the past year with Salmonella Newport, Cronobacter sakazakii and other bacteria.

Similac & Enfamil Baby Formula Health Risks

In addition to concerns about the shortages and recent problems with contamination, manufacturers are also facing a growing number of Similac lawsuits and Enfamil lawsuits now being pursued by families of premature babies who developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed the cow’s milk products while still in the NICU.

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious health condition that primarily impacts preterm infants, causing intestinal tissues to become inflamed and die. If left untreated, it can cause dangerous perforations in the intestines, which allow bacteria to leak into the abdomen or infiltrate the bloodstream. This can lead to life-threatening infections, narrowing of the intestines, short bowel syndrome, developmental delays and a failure to thrive.

A number of studies published over the past three decades have highlighted the link between NEC and cow’s milk formula like Similac and Enfamil, yet manufacturers have continued to market and promote versions of their products specifically for use by premature infants.

According to allegations raised in the baby formula NEC lawsuits, many of those infants may have avoided the condition if the manufacturers hadn’t provided false and misleading information to parents and the medical community, which diminished the importance of breast feeding or using human donor milk.

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