ATLANTA — If you’re looking for baby formula, chances are that you’re seeing empty shelves at the grocery store.
Channel 2 Consumer Investigator and new father Justin Gray has dealt with the problem firsthand.
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Gray discovered that the shortage is not just about the supply chain issues or inflation, its about a limited market in which one major producer has shut down production.
Nearly all formula in the United States comes from just three manufacturers. Part of that is because each state’s WIC program, which pays for low income families’ formula, signs an exclusive contract with just one company.
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Georgia families can just use Enfamil.
In February, formula giant Abbott shut down production at its Michigan factory because of dangerous bacterial contamination discovered in the formula production areas between January and March. That one plant shutting down in a limited formula market has spurred the nationwide shortage.
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Now, lawmakers are looking into why the Food and Drug Administration didn’t act sooner to stave off the shortage.
The FDA first learned about the problems at the Abbot factory in the fall, but it wasn’t until February that a recall was issued.
The plant has remained shut down, though Abbot announced late Monday it has entered a consent decree with the FDA to restart production within two weeks. It will still take about six to eight weeks after that to get formula back on the store shelves.
Gray talked to Harralson County mom Ariel Williams, who’s son Baylor is allergic to cow’s milk and needs a very specific brand of amino acid formula.
“It’s tough, because with this one, there is not a substitute,” Williams said.
She’s been relying on other moms on Facebook groups for help.
“I have one coming to New York today and another roaming Alabama, just trying to do what we can,” she said.
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