Tips, resources from Okaloosa health department on tackling the baby formula shortage

Special to the Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

FORT WALTON BEACH — The Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) is monitoring the current infant formula shortage.

On May 12, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo sent a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf regarding the formula shortages affecting some of Florida’s most vulnerable populations. DOH-Okaloosa wants to ensure Floridians are kept up to date on this issue and have the correct information on how to protect your family.  

When the initial recall was issued by Abbott Nutrition in February, the department immediately reached out to retailers that accept the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits to recommend ordering an alternative supply of formula. For our medically complex children that depend on medical specialty formula, the department found alternative products to offset the shortage.  

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The current recall does not affect Florida’s primary WIC milk-based formula, but the shutdown of the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, is causing strain on the entire formula market. In a recent press release from Abbott, the company stated it could restart its factory within two weeks and get products to shelves six to eight weeks after the restart. 

For Florida families in need of certain metabolic formulas, Abbott continues to release these products on an as-needed basis with a referral from a health care professional. These products were not included in the recall and have been tested and comply with all product release requirements before distribution. Impacted families should contact their health care provider or local WIC office to ensure they are getting the necessary formula.  

Safety tips

  • Choose an infant formula that is safe. For more information on choosing a safe infant formula, visit the CDC and FDA pages on the topic. 
  • Do not make homemade infant formula. Visit the FDA’s page for more information. 
  • Do not buy formula online that comes from outside the United States. This formula could be counterfeit, including a fake labels with a wrong use-by-date. 
  • Properly prepare and store infant formula. For information on proper preparation and storage, visit the CDC’s page. 
  • Properly clean, sanitize and store infant feeding items. Visit the CDC’s page for more information. 
  • Always wash your hands. For information on how and when to wash your hands, visit the CDC’s page. 

Recalled products

On Feb. 17, Abbott Nutrition initiated a voluntary recall of certain powdered infant formulas produced in their Sturgis, Michigan, facility. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory to alert consumers to avoid purchasing or using recalled formulas. 

Impacted products within the recalled lot may include: 

  • Similac PM 60/40.
  • Similac.
  • Alimentum. 
  • EleCare.

Impacted lots will start with a 22 through 37, not including the letter at the beginning. Example: L31465SH00. 

Check to see if you have recalled formula by: 

  • Reviewing the lot number on the bottom of your package. 
  • Checking the lot number on the Abbott website. 
  • Visiting Abbott’s website. 
  • Calling the company at 1-800-986-8540. 

Do not feed your baby recalled formula. If the lot number on your formula does not start with a 22 through 37, your formula is not impacted. 

Do not throw away recalled formula. Return it to the store for a refund or exchange or call the company at 1-800-986-8540. 

For more information, visit