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Retailers Ration Baby Formula Sales Amid Widespread Shortage

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Retailers in the U.S are rationing the sales of baby formula products as severe shortage continues to grapple the supply of one of the important food for majority of babies, according to reports. Higher prices for baby formula products also add to the woes.

CBS MoneyWatch reported that drugstore chain Walgreens is limiting customers to three infant and toddler formula products per transaction, citing increased demand and various supplier issues.

CVS Health said it is working with national brand baby formula vendors to address the issue.

Real-time product data provider Datasembly stated, after tracking baby formula stock at more than 11,000 stores, that 29% of the top-selling baby formula products were out of stock as of the week of March 13 at retailers across the country. That was higher than the 11% reported in November.

Along with the ongoing supply-chain issues related to COVID-19 including shortage of key ingredients, packaging hangups and labor shortages, a recent recall of drug major Abbott's baby formula have contributed to the severe shortage of formula products around the country.

Abbott in February had recalled various lots of its most popular powder formulas, including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, produced in its manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan after four infants were diagnosed with Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport, a rare bacterial infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC states that Cronobacter can cause severe sepsis or meningitis in infants which often becomes life-threatening.

Later, in March, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration added some lots of Similac PM 60/40 Powdered Instant Formula to Abbott recall after another death of an infant was reported. The FDA altogether has reported five cases of related - infant illness, in which 2 infants died.

Last week, the FDA released its investigation report about the Abbott plant, noting that its Sturgis, Michigan, facility failed to maintain sanitary conditions and procedures. The regulator warned the consumers about using the recalled products manufactured at the facility, after it found the plant to be unsanitary.

Amid the crisis, manufacturers are scaling up their formula production. Reckitt, maker of baby formula brand Enfamil, is said to be taking steps to ramp up production and are currently shipping 50% more product, to address issues as fast as possible.

The Infant Nutrition Council of America recently urged new parents to keep a 10-day to two-week supply or formula at home, but to avoid stockpiling formula products.

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