FLORIDA, USA — Families are having to leave stores empty-handed and worried.
The aisle for baby formula is staying vacant with 43% of products out of stock across the country.
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to share plans on how it will speed up imports from abroad. That way, the agency hopes it will be easier to import them all without changing the safety or quality standards.
Local organizations like Babycycle Diaper Bank in Pinellas County help provide families in need with infant supplies like diapers, formula, or wipes.
"The biggest need we're seeing is truly for formula," founder Torrie Jasuwan said.
The organization held a fundraiser and gala over the weekend. Money raised from the event is used to buy supplies from larger, partner agencies and distribute them to families.
"Our goal is to be a helping hand and to help people not have to make the decision between paying for diapers or formula and paying for rent or electricity," Jasuwan said.
The baby formula shortage is the result of supply chain disruptions and a recall by Abbott, stemming from contamination concerns. The recall, in particular, wiped out many brands covered by WIC, a federal program like food stamps that serves women, infants and children, though the program now permits brand substitutes.
Experts also said U.S. trade laws and product hoarding are contributing to the problem.
On Friday morning, Congress said it will investigate the causes of the low supply.
Foster parents like Monique Spears of Hillsborough County said she worries about the ongoing need, especially for babies in need of special formula.
"It's painful. All you want to do is keep them safe because they've already been removed from their parents," Spears said.
Doctors said it's important not to water down or make your own formula. They said the products are specifically made to help infants grow appropriately and attempting to make your own could lead to contamination.