Officials silent on contingencies for baby formula shortage

| 24/05/2022 | 45 Comments

(CNS): Government officials have failed to respond to queries from CNS about any contingency plans the health ministry or Health Services Authority may have regarding the potential knock-on effect here in Cayman of the baby formula shortage in the United States. Two local supermarkets have told CNS that they don’t expect the supply issues in the US to present a major shortage here but both are taking steps to ensure they are able to access supplies.

A spokesperson for Kirk Market said that they have limited sales to four cans of formula per customer to discourage panic buying. Meanwhile, Julian Foster said there are some challenges for Foster’s but they have stock and are working with vendors to ensure a sustained supply.

But government officials have not yet commented on the issue, especially relating to babies with special feeding needs and allergies, or what plans they have to make sure the hospital, at least, has supplies for any infants who need specialist formulas or what will happen should the situation here deteriorate.

However, although there have been some concerns from mothers posting on social media about challenges getting certain specialist types of formula, in general, there is some product on most shelves in Cayman.

“We do have stock of baby formula and are working with our vendors to ensure we’re able to continue to receive product,” Julian Foster told CNS in response to our enquiries last week. “While we are facing some challenges with some brands due to the supply issues in the US, we’re looking for alternative supply in other markets to ensure we’re able to continue to have product on the shelf.”

Foster said he had been in touch with Reckitt Benckiser, one of the major manufacturers of baby formula in the United Kingdom, who said they were running their factories 24 hours per day, seven days a week, with three shifts per day.

“We have also significantly increased our quality assurance resources to make sure our rigorous safety standards are maintained,” the company told Foster’s in an email. “We are taking no chances when it comes to quality and safety. We understand that this situation is worrisome to parents and know how important infant formula is for babies and children who rely on it. We are doing all we can to reduce disruption.”

A spokesperson for Kirks told us that the Abbott Nutrition plant closure in the US following a contamination scare continued to be a factor in the availability of brands such as Similac and Enfamil.

“We have placed a purchasing limit of four cans of baby formula per customer to discourage hoarding and panic buying. We hope this will help ensure that everyone who needs it can get baby formula for their family,” she said “We are still receiving regular weekly shipments of popular UK brands like HiPP and Aptamil. However, we are doing our due diligence with vendors to confirm our supply situation.”

In the United States, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, requiring formula makers to ramp up manufacturing, but that won’t solve the problem in the short term, and military airlifts of powdered baby milk from other countries can only supply a tiny percentage of the American demand for formula.

Abbott Laboratories and the US Food and Drug Administration said they are on track to reopen the manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, within one or two weeks. Abbott, the biggest US supplier of powdered infant formula has now agreed with the FDA the steps needed to resume production at the plant.


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Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The answer is birth control.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Does food reserves include baby’s formula? Wait, there are no food reserves in Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The baby formula is pretty simple really. It involves a man and a woman. Sometimes they like each other, other times rum (or a substitute) is involved. Baddabingbaddaboom, nine months later, bank account drained.

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  4. Unhappy Caymanian says:

    Food importers in Cayman have a proven track record in supply of all baby products, confirmed by the wording in your own article.

    Why therefore, has supply chain got anything to do with Govt. responsibility Cayman News Service?

    Supply chain issues may be of public health concern to any Govt. but that is about the limit. All Govt. maybe able to do is assist importers if necessary.

    A story about nothing from nothing, apart from scaremongering.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Newborns and infants can’t eat potatoes and rice. When mother’s milk is not sufficient, child allergic to it, yes that happens often, the only food they can “eat” is a specially formulated formulas, IT IS Gov’t responsibility to make sure infants don’t starve or get sick from drinking something else. Goat milk can, in emergency, substitute mothers milk, but not for long. If there are goats in Cayman their milk is contaminated with all kind of stuff including mosquitoes control chemical.

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    • Anonymous says:

      classic civil servant response….zzzzzzz
      i think government does have a role in maintaing supply of essential goods and services in times of international crisis.

    • Anonymous says:

      Gov’t as central collector has a social responsibility to intervene in crisis.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cool the cornmeal porridge and strain it like we did in the olden days. Children be strong like lion!

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  6. Anon says:

    If we can send 1000’s of vaccines from the U.K., I’m sure we can send baby milk. This shouldn’t even be an issue – there can’t be that many infants in Cayman. Why is a supermarket owner doing what CIG should be?!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    don’t worry the civil service and cig are on this…..oooppps.

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    • Pohan says:

      Why should the civil service have to deal with this? You mean the private can’t sort out some baby food.

      Come on please take some responsibility and solve your own problems.

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  8. anon says:

    Thanks to CNS I expect they will now start planning.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    As a non-parent, I never paid much attention to baby formula brand names. Seeing a number of examples in the article, I feel like we are only a few steps away from Soylent Green…

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  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad I decided to never have kids.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Your choice. Kids are not for everyone.

    • Anonymous says:

      With an attitude like that I am happy you made that decision too.

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      • Anonymous says:

        and that attitude is that?
        Just because they stated they are happy they didnt have any? Lmao sound upset that you cant say that lmao

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        • Anonymous says:

          Did you not graduate? The comment is one of gloating because the crisis doesn’t affect them. That is in poor taste.

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          • Anonymous says:

            LMAO oh please. sensitive for no reason. it doesnt effect me either and im thrilled about it, absolutely thrilled.
            Saying that doesn’t make me insensitive to those families it does effect, it is a factual statement on the life I lead at the moment.

            Grow up. If you graduated you would know that people’s opinions and feelings are theirs to own and speak about.

            Once again im VERYYYYYY happy i have no kids and this crisis doesn’t effect me. Call it gloating if you will but lol it is what it is. I am happy.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can breast milk work?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, some mothers don’t produce enough for their babies though. I have heard of some coalitions in the US where mothers pumping milk have donated their excess to others less fortunate.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is an extremely uninformed comment. Breastfeeding is not an option for a lot of women. Contrary to popular belief, it is not as easy as it appears on tv. Many women have supply issues and can’t produce enough milk. It also requires the mother to be with the baby, which causes issues for women who work outside of the home. Additionally, pumping breastmilk and leaving it for the baby to be fed while the mother is at work is also complex. It requires a hospital grade pump ($$$), proper storage etc and most women produce less breastmilk pumping than they do nursing.

      Formula is a necessity and women should not be shamed for not just breastfeeding.

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    • Anonymous says:

      your ignorance is showing

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