May 19, 2022 - News

Baby formula shortage hits Tampa Bay

Percentage of baby formula out of stock in <span style="color: white; background-color:#ff7900; padding: 2px 4px; margin-right:3px; white-space: nowrap;">Florida</span>and <span style="color: white; background-color:#1085df; padding: 2px 4px; margin-right:3px; white-space: nowrap;">U.S.</span>
Data: Datasembly; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The baby formula shortage has hit Tampa Bay, leaving shelves bare and causing panic among families statewide.

Driving the news: About 41% of Florida's expected formula stock was absent from shelves the week of May 1, according to Datasembly, a retail software company. The nation averaged a shortage of around 43%.

  • Florida also has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country, according to CDC data.

State of play: Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest suppliers of formula, shut down its Michigan plant in February after the FDA found evidence of a food-borne pathogen there and flagged several baby illnesses.

  • The shutdown disrupted the baby formula supply chain and slowly depleted stock.

The latest: A bipartisan group of House members is introducing a resolution urging President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to help resolve the crisis.

  • The FDA and Abbott reached a deal on Tuesday to reopen the plant in two weeks.

Between the lines: Milk banks around the nation have been trying to help in light of the shortage, but it may not be enough, Axios' Herb Scribner reports.

Bright spots: Parents have been connecting on social media to find and share formula, WFLA and the Tampa Bay Times report.

  • Sarasota nonprofit Mothers Helping Mothers has been receiving formula donations throughout the Tampa Bay area, per Bay News 9.

What they're saying: Rachel Dawkins, the medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, told the Times that families are already under extreme pressure between the pandemic and inflation.

  • "It's just a big cascade of terribleness," she said.

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