Mark Robertson

Mark Robertson

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The baby formula shortage: Why you can buy generic and not worry!

For weeks now, moms in the U.S. have been scrambling to find formula to feed their infants. This formula crisis stems from the recall of three formulas produced at Abbott Labs in Sturgis, Michigan. The company said that its facility is likely not the source of the bacteria outbreak. However, shutting down the plant to investigate has caused a run on formula. Here is some of the news coverage and a report about what parents can do about it....

Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens are limiting the amount of baby formula that can be purchased at one time. Walmart is allowing people to buy five containers of formula each day in stores; Target hasn’t announced its restrictions but online buyers are capped at four items. Shoppers at Walgreens and CVS are limited to three infant and toddler formula products per each transaction.

Amazon sells baby formula but be mindful of potential price-gouging or fraudulent products from third-party sellers. If you buy on Amazon, it’s recommended you purchase directly from the brand’s storefront.

Unlike other food, infant formula sold in the United States is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Perrigo Nutritionals, the largest manufacturer of Store Brand Infant Formulas in the world supplies 11 different infant formulas to 68 retailers in more than 35,000 retail locations across the country and around the world. Some store brands of formula you may be familiar with include Target's store brand (Up & UP), Wal-Mart (Parent's Choice™), CVS (CVS brand), Babies R Us (Babies R Us), Sam's Club (Members Mark™), Kroger (Comforts®), Toys R Us (Babies R Us), and Walgreen's Well Beginnings™ formulas. Whether it's Similac® or Walmart's Parent's Choice,** all infant formula must meet the same nutrients requirements specified by the Infant Formula Act, which, as you now know, standardized the nutritional content of infant formula.

While the offerings and store brand name vary by retailer, the formulations are manufactured to consistent quality standards for each category in Perrigo's state-of-the-art factories in Georgia, Vermont, and Covington, Ohio. Both facilities adhere to stringent FDA guidelines and use ingredients that are sourced in North America, including milk from Vermont dairies.

Because all infant formula is regulated by the FDA, however, Store Brand Formula isn't like other store brand products, such as ketchup or canned peaches. Even though Store Brand Formula costs up to half the price, it has to be equal to the name-brand in terms of nutritional quality, quantity and safety because it is considered a sole source of nutrition.

Contact your pediatrician if you cannot find what you need and ask about generic substitutions.

Baby girl drinking bottle of milk

Photo: Getty Images

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