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Over 40 percent of America's baby formula supplies are out of stock

Some areas in the Southern U.S. are seeing deeper shortages amid the shutdown of a critical factory.
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There appears to be no end in sight to America's baby formula shortage, according to the most recent data from a retail tracking group.

The share of baby formula out of stock across the U.S. hit 43 percent the week ending May 8, according to the retail pricing data website Datasembly.

"Unfortunately, we don’t see this slowing down any time soon," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said in a statement Monday. "Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have continued to bring volatility to the category, and continues to be one of the most affected products in the market.”

The shortages were prompted in part by the shutdown of a key production facility in Michigan this year. The plant, owned by Abbott Nutrition, has been the subject of an FDA and CDC investigation following reports of contaminated formula that was linked to the deaths of at least two infants.

Formula shortages are especially dangerous, Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, an advocacy group for women, infants and children, said in a statement.

“Unlike other food recalls, shortages in the infant formula supply affects a major — or even exclusive — source of nutrition for babies," he said. "Inadequate nutrition could have long-term health implications for babies."

The states seeing the worst shortages include Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota — all with out-of-stock rates of about 50 percent. A total of 26 states have out of stock rates of 40 to 50 percent.

Among metro areas, San Antonio's out-of-stock rate has climbed to 57 percent, with Memphis and Nashville at 52 percent and Houston and Des Moines at 50 percent.

In a statement Tuesday, the FDA said it was allowing Abbott to release "urgent, life-sustaining supplies of certain specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis" that originate at the Sturgis facility.

"We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. in the statement. 

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is calling on the FDA and the Biden Administration to take action.

In response to a request for comment, an Abbott spokesperson shared a statement published on its website, saying in part: "Abbott is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restart operations at the Sturgis, Mich., facility."

"In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant formula by prioritizing infant formula production at our facilities that provide product to the U.S. market."

A representative for CVS confirmed its stores are currently limiting customers to three baby formula products per purchase. A Target representative said it currently had some online ordering limitations in place, but not at in-person stores.

Representatives for Amazon, Publix, Walmart and Walgreens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.