The impact of the ongoing pandemic and the recent 2022 Abbott recall of certain powdered formulas has led to periodic infant formula shortages for all consumers, including WIC families. More information for WIC families on infant formula availability can be found at the California WIC Infant Formula Availability webpage.

Certain lot numbers of Similac, Similac PM 60/40, Alimentum and EleCare powdered formulas have been recalled. Check the lot number on the bottom of your formula to see if your formula needs to be returned. If you have recalled formula, do NOT use it. Return it to the store or call the manufacturer at 800-986-8540 for replacement. Find out more about the recall at the Abbott Recall webpage (www.similacrecall.com).

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The impacts of the ongoing pandemic and the recent 2022 Abbott recall of certain powdered infant formula have led to periodic shortages of major brands of formula. The infant formula supply chain problems have affected all consumers, including California families using WIC benefits to purchase formula.

The California Department of Public Health/Women, Infants and Children Division (CDPH/WIC) is here to provide the latest information and connect California families to helpful resources.

  1. Steps we are taking
  2. Temporary formula options
  3. Finding formula
  4. Infant formula safety
  5. Breastfeeding support and education
  6. Banked human milk
  7. Questions and answers
  8. Abbott recall information

Steps we are taking

CDPH/WIC is keeping watch on reports of widespread low stock, shortages, and limiting of powdered infant formula in California. CDPH/WIC is also working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to monitor access to WIC-provided formulas.

The USDA has provided state WIC agencies regulatory flexibilities in response to the recall. CDPH/WIC has made it a top priority to identify and implement flexibilities. CDPH/WIC is working closely with Mead Johnson and has made it a top priority to identify and implement flexibilities and get Enfamil formula to the areas with shortages.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert as families remain concerned about the availability of safe and affordable baby formula. The California Department of Justice is watching the market closely for price fixing and other potential violations of the law. Californians who believe they have information relating to potential violations of the law should report it on the Department of Justice website.

Temporary formula options

WIC families unable to find their regular formula can temporarily mix and match over 100 formulas found in the lists below. Please contact your local WIC office if you have any questions about your new options.

WIC approved formula substitutions:

If your benefits show one of the categories below, you can buy any formulas on that category’s list.

  1. Powder Formulas English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  2. 12.5 oz Enfamil Infant Powder Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  3. 12.4 oz Gentlease Powder Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  4. 12.4 oz Enfamil Reguline Powder Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  5. 12.9 oz Enfamil A.R. Powder Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  6. 12.9 oz Enfamil ProSobee Powder Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  7. 13 oz Enfamil Infant Concentrate Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  8. 13 oz Enfamil ProSobee Concentrate Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  9. Ready to Feed Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  10. Ready to Feed Soy Formula English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  11. Therapeutic Formulas English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)

Finding your approved formula:

Example A:

In Example A, the family’s food balance shows they have been issued 5.0 cans in the 12.5 oz Enfamil Infant Powder Formula category. This means that they can buy any of the formulas in list found above named: “12.5 oz Enfamil Infant Powder Formula.”

Example A Image

Example B:

In Example B, the family’s food balance shows they have been issued 5.0 cans in the Powder Formulas category. This means that they can buy any of the formulas in the list found above named: “Powder Formulas.”


Example B Image

Tips before you shop:


Please contact your local WIC office to see how these options work for you or if you have any questions.

Next steps:

CDPH/WIC will continue to work with Mead Johnson on formula availability in California. This webpage will be updated as more formulas are added.

The new options are temporary and will be removed when CDPH/WIC finds that contract formulas are once again widely available.

How to find infant formula

WIC families can do the following to find infant formula that is safe for their baby:

For more resources in finding formula or increasing breastmilk supply, parents and caregivers can visit the following websites:


Infant Formula Safety

The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warn against using recipes to make homemade infant formula. Using homemade infant formula can lead to serious health problems for babies. A baby’s nutritional needs are very specific, especially in the first year of life. Homemade infant formulas may contain too little or too much of certain components, such as vitamins and minerals like iron. Homemade infant formula may also be more easily contaminated, which could lead to babies getting sick or developing an infection.

Families should stick with products that meet federal standards. These products ensure formula is safe and free of harmful bacteria and meet an infant’s nutritional needs.

Families should contact a pediatrician or health care provider with any concerns about medically appropriate, safe feeding alternatives.


Breastfeeding support and education

Keeping up a good milk supply or making more milk during the infant formula shortage crises.

The answer is simple, the more often you breastfeed, the more milk you will make.

Have questions? Contact your WIC counselor or WIC breastfeeding support professional. They can talk to you about your concerns and give you tips to increase your supply.

WIC has offices throughout California. Call your local WIC office for an appointment and locations near you. Visit MyFamily.WIC.ca.gov to find out if you are eligible for WIC or for the nearest WIC office.

Source: USDA WIC Breastfeeding Support

Relactation or restarting breastfeeding.

Is it possible to restart breastfeeding (relactation)?

Relactation is possible but not always easy. Set realistic expectations based on your individual circumstances.

What is Relactation?

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering relactation:

Relactation basics

Getting started

It takes time

If you are thinking about relactation, talk to a lactation support professional or your health care provider. To find a lactation support specialist click here or contact your health plan for more information. If you are a WIC participant, contact your WIC Local Agency to determine if a lactation specialist is available.

Adapted from: Idaho WIC Program, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Public Health Division

Resources:

Banked Human Milk

Banked human milk may be a safe and nutritious option for some families to feed their infants. Families who wish to use banked human milk must have a prescription from their pediatrician or health care provider with a medical diagnosis, amount needed, and duration of the prescription. Families are advised to only use human milk provided from a Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) certified milk bank. Families are advised not to buy human milk on-line or participate in informal human milk sharing as it may not be safe and may be harmful to their infant.

Most health insurance plans have guidelines for when banked human milk is a covered benefit. Check with your health plan to see if it will be covered or available at a lower cost. When it is not covered, the cost is $4.00 - $5.00 per ounce, plus the cost of shipping.

For California Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program Participants:

Maybe you’d like to donate breast milk and this is a wonderful gift to share. More information on how to donate or purchase banked human milk can be found at Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose or the University of California Health Milk Bank in San Diego, the two certified human milk banks in California.

Questions and answers

Can I buy non-WIC formula with my WIC Card?

California WIC has added more types and sizes of formula to what you can buy with your WIC benefits.

More information on temporary formula options can be found here.

Ask your local WIC office if you have questions about formula options. CDPH/WIC is working with Mead Johnson (Enfamil branded formulas) and the USDA to provide more options to WIC families. CDPH/WIC will update this webpage if any further changes are made.

What if I cannot find my prescription formula?

If your family’s health care provider has written a prescription for a special formula, and it is not available at any stores, you should contact your local WIC office. They can help determine what alternate formulas are available with WIC benefits.

You may be referred to your health care provider for another prescription formula that can be purchased with WIC benefits.

What breastfeeding support and education does WIC provide?

All WIC local agencies provide infant feeding support for breastfeeding, partially breastfeeding, and formula feeding parents. WIC is here to help support families who are experiencing breastfeeding problems or just have questions.

All WIC counselors are trained in infant feeding support. WIC offices also have trained breastfeeding support professionals such as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). These professionals can help with more difficult breastfeeding challenges if they occur.

Some WIC agencies offer breastfeeding peer counselor support. These are parents who have breastfed their babies and are available to offer peer-to-peer support.

WIC families should check with their local WIC office to see what type of support and education can be provided for families.

Abbott recall information

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Updates: The FDA provides regular updates on the investigation at the Abbott Sturgis, MI production facility. The last update was March 31st, 2022. WIC families can subscribe to updates from the FDA to receive reliable and timely information. The FDA also provides a consumer-friendly webpage about the recall and formula safety.

For infants under three months, born prematurely, or who have a weakened immune system, both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently recommending additional precautions.





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In-Person Tel: 1-800-852-5770
Email: WIC@cdph.ca.gov



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