Missouri WIC announces program to help parents replace recalled infant formula

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Tuesday, Missouri Health and Senior Services Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children announced a new program waiver to help participants replace previously used and recalled formula, even though the Abbott brand is not available in store.

Missouri WIC announced Friday the proactive and voluntary recall of certain Similac, Alimentum or EleCare powder formulas manufactured by Abbott.

The Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating complaints from four babies in three states who fell ill after consuming the infant formula. All of the babies needed hospital treatment for their illness, and the FDA says Cronobacter bacteria may have led to one baby’s death.

The recall resulted in empty shelves, hungry babies and anxious parents waiting for a solution after their baby’s formula was no longer an option.

Generally, WIC stated that federal regulations prohibit retailers from allowing exchanges of authorized supplemental foods obtained with WIC benefits, except for exchanges of an identical authorized supplemental food (exact brand and size) .

Missouri WIC received a waiver of this requirement to address shortages due to the voluntary recall. This waiver only applies to items redeemed under Abbott’s 2022 recall of certain powdered formulas and exempt formulas during supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19.

This waiver states that WIC Authorized Retailers shall treat all customers (including WIC Participants) equally with respect to the formula recall redemption process and possible substitutes, which may include, but are not limited to, limit to:

• The same brand (Abbott) in a different product, physical form or unit size,
• A substitute product from another brand,
• A store credit, or
• A cash refund.

Retailers are not required to verify if a product was purchased with WIC benefits as part of the redemption process, according to the Missouri WIC. The recall redemption process may vary from one WIC retailer to another as the redemption will be processed according to each retailer’s recall policy. WIC participants should speak to their retailer to find out how to redeem. Additionally, Missouri WIC is working to ensure participants will be able to experience the benefits of their plan and appreciates their patience during this disruption.

Missourians interested in learning more about WIC benefits can click here or call TEL-LINK at 1-800-835-5465 to find the local WIC agency in their county.

Cow’s milk or milk alternatives are not safe substitutes for infant formula. The CDC recommends waiting until babies are at least 12 months old to introduce cow’s milk. Feeding an infant with cow’s milk can put him at risk of intestinal bleeding. It also contains too much protein and minerals for babies’ kidneys and does not contain the right amount of nutrients. See additional information from the CDC on the dangers of feeding infants cow’s milk or milk substitutes.

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