GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As a nationwide shortage drags on, Grand Rapids-area mom Ashley Buckner is always trying to figure out where she can find formula for her baby.
“If I wake up in the middle of the night because she needs to eat, I’m on the Target website like constantly checking to see if they had it in stock,” Buckner told News 8 Tuesday. “I think it was like last week or two weeks ago, they only had it in stock in Flint and I said to my husband, ‘I’m willing to drive to Flint if that’s what it takes to get formula.'”
Though the supply chain snags that have plagued all sorts of products are part of the problem, a production facility in Southwest Michigan is also partly to blame for the shortage.
In February, the federal Food and Drug Administration shut down the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis following reports of contaminated formula linked to two deaths. Neither the FDA nor Abbott could say Tuesday when the plant might reopen. They said they are working together to address problems revealed in an inspection of the plant.
Datasembly reports as much as 40% of the country’s baby formula supplies are out of stock — an unprecedented shortage. Some retailers are limiting sales because of the shortage.
Meanwhile, parents are enlisting help to find what they need.
“We have family that lives in North Carolina, we have friends that live on other sides of the state, so they’re always looking for us and they’re willing to ship,” Buckner said. “We’re stocking up when we can find it. And ‘stocking up,’ using that term very loosely because we obviously don’t want to take too much of it because there are other moms that are struggling as well.”
The FDA said it expects to share more on its Abbott investigation soon.
In the meantime, Abbott says it is prioritizing the production of Similac and Alimentum formula at other facilities that have FDA authorization, including one in Ireland. It added it is working to make sure families with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food benefits can get other formula options and with health care providers to find formula alternatives.
“It’s just a lot of praying and being hopeful that we can find some and finding it before the last can runs out,” Buckner said.
—News 8’s Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.