U.S. baby formula shortage impacting Canadian families, experts say

While food experts report a baby formula shortage in the United States, some families in Waterloo Region say they've also had difficulties finding what they need.

According to Sylvain Charlebois, the Director at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, there have been several product recalls along with a number of supply chain issues in the U.S.

“People are actually encouraged to call directly to the manufacturers. There are products out there, it’s just not reaching stores right now,” Charlebois said.

The shortage comes after formula manufacturer Abbott shut down one of its plants and recalled several brands of formula due to potential contamination that may have contributed to infant deaths.

Charlebois said Canadians haven’t been seeing the same kind of shortages as Americans but said recalled items won’t be available.

“If you’re looking for baby formula you probably will find some but it may not be the brand that you are accustomed to,” said Charlebois.

Danikka Frey, a Waterloo mother, said she stopped seeing the brand she used in February.

“It was terrible. It was terrifying. To think that maybe I wouldn’t be able to feed my son,” Frey said. “I spent hours one night driving all over town trying to find this formula.”

The organization SafelyFed Canada advocates for improved infant feeding policies. The group said they aren't seeing shortages, but supply chain disruptions may result in local deliveries being delayed, particularly for specialty products.

"Parents should know that they can use any brand so long as it is labeled 'infant formula', any product labeled for use from zero months (birth) can be used up to 12 months," said Michelle Branco with SafelyFed Canada.

Frey said she was forced to switch brands but it took some time for her baby to get used to the change.

“He was very uncomfortable, very gassy, really struggled with sleep,” said Frey.

SafelyFed suggested parents using specialty formulas or with specific health concerns, contact public health or their baby's doctor for advice.