House panel to examine baby formula shortage; when will it be available?

A House of Representatives panel will meet this month to address the growing shortage of infant formula, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Wednesday.

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The committee, which is set to meet on May 25, did not release the names of those who would be testifying but said the focus of the hearing would be the cause of the shortage that has parents scrambling to find formula for their children.

The shortages began after infant formula Similac was recalled in February after complaints of bacterial infections in children who had consumed it. The formula, made by Abbott, was manufactured in a plant in Michigan.

That plant was closed following the complaints. Abbott said that after a thorough review, there was no evidence linking its formula to infant illness, Reuters reported.

Abbott on Wednesday said the restart of the Michigan plant would come about two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its reopening.

If it gets approval to reopen, Abbott officials said it will take six to eight weeks for the product to return to store shelves.

About 40% of baby formula products are out of stock nationwide at the end of April, according to Datasembly, a retail tracking group.

“Unfortunately, we don’t see this slowing down any time soon,” Ben Reich, CEO of Datasembly, said in a statement.

Some U.S. retailers have limited how much consumers can purchase.

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