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Baby formula 'harder to find in Las Vegas than any other city in the country' amid shortage

baby formula
Posted at 2:53 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 18:17:41-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Parents across the U.S. are desperate to feed their babies amid an ongoing shortage of formula, and data shows the shortage is especially acute in Las Vegas.

Bloomberg reports Las Vegas ranks no. 1 out of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the country with the worst shortages of baby formula, according to data from retail tracking firm Datasembly.

In the Las Vegas metro area, data showed baby formula had a 52.72% out-of-stock rate. Houston and Nashville fell right behind, with 52% of formulas out of stock in those cities.

"Formula is harder to find in Las Vegas than in any other city in the country, and that is unacceptable," Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wrote on Wednesday.

She and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration demanding the agency do everything in its power to combat the shortage.

"We'll keep fighting to get Nevada families the resources they need," Cortez Masto stated.

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Nationwide, 43% of formula was out of stock at retailers tracked by Datasembly for the week ending May 8. That's compared with a 31% of formula out of stock a month ago, Bloomberg reported.

The shortage is attributed to a combination of factors, including supply chain disruptions. In February, Abbott Laboratories pulled certain formula products from the market after the FDA warned against using them, which diminished the nationwide supply.

Abbott recently reached an agreement with the FDA to restart production at its largest factory, which was shut down because of contamination. The FDA commissioner said the move will help additional formula products hit U.S. stores in a couple of weeks.

"We're doing everything we can, 24/7, to work on this," said FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf. "We anticipate that period of a few weeks, but we really do anticipate that within a few weeks we'll have things back to normal."

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Currently, the vast majority of formula in the U.S. is American-made, but the FDA is also looking to import formula from outside the country.

"We are seeking manufacturers from around the globe who may have available product that could meet our regulatory standards for both nutrition and food safety," said Dr. Susan Mayne with the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

The FDA warned, however, that products imported from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand would likely take weeks to arrive.

Congress is working on two bills to combat the shortage. One allocates emergency funding to the FDA to purchase formula from overseas. The other would expand formula access for people receiving government assistance. The House of Representatives was expected to take up both bills on Wednesday.

Sen. Cortez Masto recommended Nevadans struggling to find formula utilize the resources available through the Department of Health and Human Services. Find the HHS formula shortage fact sheet here.