The national shortage was brought on, in part, by supply chain issues, disruptions in ingredients, labor and transportation. Then in February, Abbott Nutrition was forced to shut down its Sturgis, Michigan, manufacturing plant because of contamination concerns when two babies died after consuming its formula.
The company has since announced that it’s working to fix the issues highlighted by the Food and Drug Administration. Abbott aims to reopen the Sturgis site in two weeks, it said.
In the meantime, some online sellers are advertising unopened bottles of formula at more than three times the retail price.
U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., called on his state’s attorney general Thursday to investigate possible hoarding and price gouging of baby formula.
“As a father, I know that parents must have access to safe, healthy, and affordable food for their newborns,” Burchett wrote in a letter to Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. “Unfortunately, the state of Tennessee is currently experiencing one of the worst baby formula shortages in the nation. That is why I request you monitor retail prices of powdered formula and review any reports of potential stockpiling for the purpose of retail or price gouging.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James also warned against price gouging in a consumer alert she issued Wednesday.
“If New Yorkers see exorbitant price increases for baby formula, I encourage them to report it to my office immediately. Anyone who seeks to take advantage of this crisis is on notice,” she said. “I also urge any parent who is struggling to find formula to speak with their child’s doctor before altering or using formula other than directed.”
James encouraged New Yorkers with excess unopened, unexpired formula to donate it to their local food pantries.
A White House spokesperson said Thursday that President Joe Biden would speak with retailers about an update on efforts to improve baby formula supplies.