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Finding infant formula in midst of recalls and shortages

Baby with bottle

As a parent, providing safe, nutritious food for your little one is a necessity, but what do you do when the options run low? Many parents of infants are stressed and frustrated as the nation is currently facing infant formula recalls and shortages. On February 17, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Abbott Nutrition's voluntary recall on three of Abbott’s infant formula brands, including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, for possible bacteria contamination. Do not use if your powdered formula meets all these conditions:

  • First two digits are 22 through 37 and
  • Code on the container contains "K8," "SH," or "Z2" and
  • Use-by date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later

As many products, including infant formula, may be hard to find on store shelves, some parents may wonder what to do. While breastmilk is the best food for babies, it may not be an option to breastfeed your infant. The FDA warns parents that homemade formula is not the answer. Making your own baby formula can lead to risks of contamination. Contaminated formulas may result in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Homemade formula may also contain too much or too little of critical nutrients, leading to very serious health problems. Try calling local grocery and pharmacy stores to see if your baby’s usual formula is available and not on the recalled list. You could also try buying it online, but only from reputable suppliers, such as mainstream retail outlets rather than websites where anyone can sell from. All infant formulas legally sold in the United States must be reviewed by FDA, as certain standards must be met. Never use opened secondhand formula, which could be contaminated, and always use formula before its “use-by” date.

While it may be tempting to make a bottle with a little less powdered formula when your supply is running low, you should always follow the preparation directions on the package, as changing the ratio of formula to water can lead to nutritional deficiencies or other health issues. If you must switch to a new formula due to shortages or recalls, look for a generic version of your baby’s usual formula first. If there are no generic versions available, check with your pediatrician before making a switch, particularly if your baby is on a specialized formula.

Also, don’t forget to look for signs that your baby is ready for complementary foods around 6 months of age. You’ll still need to provide infant formula or breast milk through at least 12 months to meet your baby’s needs, but the amount needed may decrease as your baby gets older and eats more solid food. To learn more about feeding your baby complimentary foods, visit Illinois Extension’s website: Feeding My Baby from Cradle to Table. The bottom-line is don’t panic if you can’t find your usual formula. If these options don’t work, call your pediatrician to help walk you through it.



CDC. Choosing an infant formula. Page last reviewed: February 18, 2022

FDA News Release. FDA warns consumers not to use certain powdered infant formula produced in Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan. February 17, 2022.

USDA, Food and Nutrition Service. Infant nutrition and feeding: a guide for use in the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC).


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.