State health officials offer tips, guidance on navigating nationwide formula shortage

Biden Invokes Defense Production Act To Address Infant Formula Shortage, Among Other Actions
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President Joe Biden announced on May 18 that his administration would be taking new actions to attempt to alleviate ongoing infant formula shortages in the United States, including invoking the Defense Production Act.

MADISON, Wis. — As families with infants continue to scour store shelves for baby formula, state health officials are sharing tips for how to deal with the ongoing shortage.

Prompted by supply chain issues and a recall of some powdered formulas, the shortage has prompted some Wisconsinites to venture across state lines in search of formula. At the national level, President Biden recently invoked the Defense Production Act to increase supply throughout the country.

“This is a very stressful time for a lot of Wisconsin families, and we want to make sure they have the information they need so they can keep their babies healthy and well-fed with suitable substitutes if they can’t find their usual brand of formula,” Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said. “In many cases, babies on standard formulas can switch to any formula that’s available, including store brands. If your baby takes a specialized formula, it’s best to talk to your family’s pediatrician about the best substitute for your child.”

RELATED: Looking for baby formula in the Madison area? Here’s what to do

DHS officials recommend families dealing with the shortage keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don’t water down or dilute formula to extend its life; doing so prevents infants from getting all the nutrients they need.
  • Don’t make your own formula. It’s usually unsafe and often won’t meet a baby’s nutritional needs.
  • Avoid giving babies cow, goat, or plant-based milks until they’re at least one year old. These milks can give babies digestive issues and also lack the needed minerals and proteins.
  • Check smaller stores that aren’t as commonly visited. They may have more stock than big one-stop-shop stores.
  • Use online inventory trackers to figure out which stores have formula in stock
  • Reach out to food pantries and charitable organizations that may be able to help. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children’s program) clinics can help connect people to local food pantries.
  • Avoid stockpiling formula so all families have access to the critical product. Doing so also gives manufacturers and retailers more time to restock shelves.

Families are also urged to get rid of and avoid buying any recalled formula. Families can avoid recalled products by checking the lot code, a multidigit number on the bottom of containers of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered infant formula, and should not use if:

  • The first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; and
  • The code on the container contains K8, SH or Z2; and
  • The expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

Families should also avoid Similac PM 60/40 with the following lot codes:

  • Cans: 27032K80
  • Cases: 27032K800

More information and resources are available on DHS’s website.