With 43% of all baby formula out of stock across the country, the White House now has no choice but to step in.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new website to help parents find baby formula amid a nationwide shortage.
The link to the website is hhs.gov/formula/index.html. It includes a list of resources that may be able to assist those who are unable to find formula.
In Northeast Florida, from RiverTown to Riverside, the infant formula aisle at many big-name stores were empty on Friday.
But Raymond Solomon, owner of Solomon Ventures, said his store has some to spare.
“I wanted somebody to know because, on the news, you just hear of the shortage and people can’t find any formula,” Solomon said. “And we have plenty of it, and we don’t mark it up, we marked it down.”
Solomon reached out to News4JAX after hearing about the infant formula shortage.
Formula that is normally sold for $39.95 sells for $19.95 at Solomon’s store.
And just because it’s marked down doesn’t mean the supply is bad. News4JAX checked the dates -- the formula does not expire until next year and none of the containers are part of a safety recall.
Still, he only has one kind of formula, and his little supply will not feed every child.
“We do depend on a very small number of producers of formula, and this is the consequence of our dependence on commercialized approaches of caring for our children,” said Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, a pediatrician.
Goldhagen said that even if parents are desperate, there’s some things they should not do.
“There is great danger in creating your own formulas. The recipes you’ll find on the internet, again, we can substitute whole cows milk for children 6 months of age or older, but we do need to add some additional elements like iron as an example,” Goldhagen said. “Talk to your pediatrician and we’ll get through this together.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make an announcement on infant formula imports amid the shortage that has sent parents scrambling to keep their babies fed, the federal agency said Friday.
“FDA is working closely w/ our federal government partners to safely bring as much infant formula to US shelves as quickly as possible. This is a top priority for FDA. Our team will continue working around the clock to resolve the current supply challenges as quickly as possible,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf tweeted Friday afternoon.
The commissioner went on to say the FDA is expected to announce next week plans outlining how manufacturers and suppliers abroad may import their products into the U.S., along with additional flexibilities for domestic manufacturers and suppliers
This will include a streamlined process to meet the urgent need for formula, according to Califf. The FDA said it will work with these manufacturers and suppliers to ensure the products still meet certain safety, quality and labeling standards.
Califf said the FDA is also continuing to work with manufacturers that currently produce infant formula for the U.S. market “like Mead Johnson/Reckitt, Nestle/Gerber, Nutricia/Danone and Perrigo” to increase production, including specialty metabolic products.
“We believe these and other ongoing efforts will help dramatically improve the supply in the U.S. in a matter of weeks. Our data indicates that in stock rates in retail stores are stabilizing but we continue to work around the clock to further increase availability,” Califf’s string of tweets concluded.
The president discussed with executives from Gerber and Reckitt how they could increase production and how his administration could help, and talked with leaders from Walmart and Target about how to restock shelves and address regional disparities in access to formula, the White House said.
The administration plans to monitor possible price gouging and work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands on imports, even though 98% of baby formula is domestically made.
The problem is the result of supply chain disruptions and the safety recall, and has had a cascade of effects: Retailers are limiting what customers can buy, and doctors and health workers are urging parents to contact food banks or physicians’ offices, in addition to warning against watering down formula to stretch supplies or using online DIY recipes.
“We recognize that this is certainly a challenge for people across the country, something the president is very focused on and we’re going to do everything we can to cut red tape and take steps to increase supply,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
According to HHS, manufacturers have ramped up production 30-50%.