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North Texas families struggle to locate baby formula in midst of recall

North Texas families struggle to locate baby formula in midst of recall

North Texas families struggle to locate baby formula in midst of recall
June 02
10:00 2022

Since Abbott Nutrition is voluntarily recalled baby formula products from brands including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare in mid-February, parents have been scrambling to locate baby formula in grocery stores.

The recall occurred four months after a 34-page document alleged unsanitary conditions at a facility in Sturgis, Mich. Frank Yiannas, Food and Drug Administration deputy commissioner for food policy and response, was unaware of the issue until February, according to the Washington Post.

The recall was initiated after four infants, two of which later died, consumed the powdered baby formula and fell ill with symptoms related to Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The Cronobactor sakazakii bacteria can cause meningitis or sepsis, and was linked to many packages of formula.

Much like the hoarding of toilet paper and human necessities during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an outbreak of “formula hoarding” since the recall’s announcement.

Little baby formula is left on grocery store shelves, and the few available are being bought and sold to others at extremely inflated prices. Certain stores have also been raising prices of formula as a result of the shortage, according to CBS DFW.

The shortage has significantly affected Denton’s Walmart location, according to UNT senior and Denton Walmart employee, Amanda Ramirez.

“The shortage is especially affecting those who use WIC [and] Food Stamps because WIC is so specific about which formula and which specific brand, and even as far as which size they can buy,” Ramirez said.

Seeing customers struggle can be difficult and disheartening to see, but Ramirez says she does her best to help customers get as much formula as possible.

“I’m told by my managers that we get shipments every two weeks and I think they expect me to tell customers that we’re not sure when the regular amount will come in.” Ramirez said.

Parents and guardians have been scrambling through North Texas grocery stores trying to find anything that could work for their children. The shortage is especially difficult for families with infants who have dietary restrictions, according to North Texas native and mother of two, Guadalupe Treviño.

“I had to let the last cans of formula that WIC prescribed to us basically go to waste because I never found it at my local grocery store or anywhere around us for months,” Treviño said. The shortage has especially affected her youngest, Elias.

“Normally, he uses Enfamil hypoallergenic formula. In April, I had to switch to the generic Walmart brand because that’s the closest we could find to it.”

Another North Texas resident and mother of a newborn, Jaexny Cardenas, shares the same concerns and frustration over the formula shortage. She previously had to travel half an hour from home to find baby formula.

“It’s made it hard to feed my daughter — I had to start giving her Gerber food a little earlier than I wanted to,” Cadenas said. The switch has impacted her daughter’s health and has given her “stomach pains, constipation, hives, and [has] caused her to be fussier than usual.”

Locally, U.S. Rep. for Texas’s 24th congressional district, Beth Van Duyne, has created a North Texas map of where to find baby formula in the area, with reports coming in daily. Abbott plans to re-open the Mich. baby formula facility June 4 and have EleCare formula start being shipped on June 20, according to CNBC. Grocery store shelves most likely will not be restocked fully until July.

Featured Image: A sign informing customers of a baby formula limit hangs in front of an empty shelf at CVS on May 27, 2022. Photo by Conor Trapani

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Lauryn Barron

Lauryn Barron

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