Friday, April 7, 2023 — Last week, the US House began a series of hearings on the issue of formula contamination and resulting shortages. There have been four formula recalls over Cronobacter contamination in the past year — more formula recalls than there have been in the last decade combined. In response, Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director of ParentsTogether, a parent advocacy group of more than 3 million members, released this statement:
“For any parent, it’s unacceptable that our babies could be put at risk because of potential formula contamination, but the blame game we’re seeing that diverts attention away from corporations and onto the FDA doesn’t actually make our kids any safer. We don’t need to play the blame game, we need to fix the problem. Parents are still left hanging in the balance wondering if there will be safe formula on the shelves when they do their grocery shopping.
“Parents have enough to worry about without having to determine whether the food we give our babies is safe to eat. We’ve seen the results of corporations putting profits over our children before. We need the formula industry to put families first by prioritizing the safety of these products over corporate gain and we need the federal government to use the power of accountability to protect families when corporations fail to do so.”
ParentsTogether has campaigned for transparency and safety on this issue before. Last March, ParentsTogether launched a petition that was signed by more than 50,000 parents, grandparents, consumer advocates, and health policy experts, demanding answers about why it took the FDA and Abbott Nutrition so long to act when Abbott’s baby formula was recalled early last year. The petition specifically asked that the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services conduct a full and transparent investigation into how this happened.
The petition was successful in building momentum, along with public outrage from desperate parents scrambling to feed their babies. The Department of Justice recently announced they are opening a criminal investigation into the formula shortage to hold both Abbott executives and the FDA accountable for their negligence.
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“My son got sick after drinking the recalled formula. He experienced vomiting and I had to take him to his doctor for treatment. I’m a first time parent and to go through something like this was so frustrating and scary. It was hard not to blame myself because I was the one who gave my baby the formula in the first place. He was only 2 months old at the time. It’s just frustrating how companies are not more diligent and careful with an essential and delicate food item like this… and it’s harming infants. I cried for 3 days when this happened. I was so concerned for the health of my child as a first time mom.”
–[Translated from Spanish], Estephany Sanchez, Massachusetts