According to authorities from Health Canada, physicians, and industry representatives, Canada’s infant formula shortfall has stabilised and is improving.
Nonetheless, supply issues persist, leaving many parents and carers with questions, including what they should do.
More than a year has passed since a product recall caused Abbott Nutrition to close its Michigan facility in February 2022.
Although reopening in July 2022, the factory “has not yet restored to its normal production capacity,” according to Health Canada’s website, which adds notes the plant made many items “that accounted for a major share” of the Canadian market.
“This has raised demand for baby formulae produced by other producers,” according to Health Canada.
Table of Contents
Baby formula supply latest update?
“We are still witnessing supply chain challenges with infant formula,” said Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokesman for the Retail Council of Canada, via email.
She stated that liquid, ready-to-feed formula is the most frequently accessible, but powdered formula is still scarce.
Because that powdered formula is frequently less costly, Health Canada reports that more of it is being imported and distributed to retailers across the nation.
“This can give more alternatives and may help reduce some of the strains faced by Canadian families,” stated Health Canada.
Because Canada lacks indigenous baby formula makers, it must rely entirely on imports, the majority of which come from the United States.
What about hypoallergenic formulations?
Last year’s shortfall was especially alarming for specialty formulae, according to Dr. Janice Heard, a Calgary paediatrician and member of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s public education advisory committee.
Cow’s milk proteins are hydrolyzed, or broken down, in the particular formulae.
They are required by newborns who are allergic to cow’s milk proteins and preterm babies who lack all of the enzymes required to digest them.
Because there are few alternatives for speciality formulas, the scarcity has been “extremely stressful for parents who are already coping with medically fragile children,” according to Heard.
According to Wasylyshen, the supply of speciality formula in Canada “has improved.”
According to Health Canada, the scarcity of hypoallergenic formulae has “mostly abated and is being replaced with a restricted, but stable supply.”
Federal Government Response
Under a unique “interim policy,” Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have started permitting more baby formulae without the requisite multilingual labelling to be imported into Canada. This policy will be in effect until the end of the year.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Health Canada have met with “multiple manufacturers,” including major U.S. manufacturer Abbott, British manufacturer Reckitt, and Irish-U.S. manufacturer Perrigo, “to address the short-term issue” and discuss longer-term solutions, according to an email from the minister’s spokesperson to The Canadian Press.
Nevertheless, business organisations are urging the federal government to go farther.
“At the heart of our problems has been a very unusual, extremely restricted, and very prescriptive regulatory regime governing baby formula in our country.”
What should parents do if they are unable to locate their baby’s formula?
Parents with newborns who require speciality formula should consult with their chemist before their current supply runs out so that they may try to locate and order more in, according to Heard.
She also advised them to seek assistance from their paediatrician, family doctor, or nurse practitioner.
Parents of newborns on standard formula need not be concerned about replacing different brands, according to Heard.
“All of these newborn formulae are essentially the same. Health Canada has cleared all of them “She stated.
If parents must try a new formula, she suggests doing it gradually by combining part of the new formula with the one they are used to so that newborns become accustomed to the taste.
In the rare situation where the infant vomits the formula “the instant it goes down,” or develops hives or a rash, she recommends that parents consult with a health-care practitioner to discover a new type.
According to Heard, the ideal treatment is to maintain nursing, although this is not always practical.
What parents should avoid
Parents may be tempted to dilute formula with additional water to make it last longer, but they should not, according to Heard.
“That’s just harmful for their child in terms of nutrition and energy,” she explained.
Parents should also avoid substituting cow’s or plant-based milk for formula.
“Infant formulae are designed to replicate human breast milk as nearly as possible,” Heard explained. “It’s just not the same as cow’s milk.”
Moreover, Wasylyshen of the Retail Council of Canada advised shoppers to avoid panic buying “because it will create a scarcity in and of itself.”
Source: CBC News
Presented by CTC News