Thousands of pounds of infant formula arrives in US, but moms won’t see a difference on the shelves yet

WBRC "Operation Fly Formula" won't impact store shelves immediately
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 10:33 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The first of many flights coming from overseas carrying baby formula is now in the United States. It’s a part of the government’s “Operation Fly Formula” aimed to bring in foreign cans to help the shortage here.

Experts said that first plane brought in enough formula to help fill more than half a million baby bottles, but its only for certain babies. Experts said it could still be another week before most mom’s in Alabama see more on the shelves.

“It’s not going to help the moms at Walmart or the grocery store,” Nutrition Service Coordinator for Jefferson County WIC Program Natalie Clements said. “It was specialized formulas that are a medical necessity for infants with special medical needs. They aren’t going to be the ones you find at Walmart or the grocery store, for babies with lots of food allergies or special metabolic deficiencies where they can’t have whole proteins, things like that.”

It’s because formula companies are prioritizing special infant formula over milk or soy based products right now.

“They are prioritizing those specialty formulas,” Children’s of Alabama Manager of Enteral Feeding Lab Kathleen Hughes said. “Because they’re aren’t as many substitutions for those children who need these specialty formulas.”

ADPH tells WBRC they are still waiting to learn if the state will get any cans out of this first shipment. So for now, they are still working to help moms on the hunt for store bought formula.

“We still have moms everyday that are having a hard time finding their regular formulas,” Clements said.

“All the major formula companies right now have set up a help line with this shortage,” Hughes said. “So if you look on the maker of your formula’s website, they could give tips on comparable formula that your child could use or help you on how to access their formula.”

Federal experts said with all the ramped up efforts by manufacturers, there could be more supply in stores by the end of this week.

“Look for less traveled stores,” Hughes said. “They tend to have a little bit better supply because they are less visited.”

Children’s of Alabama tells WBRC they still recommend against diluting your formula, buying online from non-FDA approved sites, and making your own formula.

They said all of these can cause major health problems, so make sure you are still buying sealed cans that have not been tampered with.


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