TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The state of Kansas is taking action to address the baby formula shortage.
Gov. Laura Kelly said her administration is working with state agencies and federal partners on the issue.
In a release, the governor’s office said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has taken a leading role in working with the White House, the National Governors Association, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Association, and private industry to help coordinate efforts and eliminate red tape.
KDHE has implemented a series of waivers to provide the maximum flexibility in making more infant formula products – including Ready to Feed (RTF) formulas – available to Kansans and has approved additional formula products for use by Kansas WIC families. The agency is also working with the Kansas Department for Children and Families on increased communication efforts to inform the public of possible alternatives.
“KDHE is committed to ensuring infants in Kansas have access to formula,” KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek said. “Since February, we have been working to do what is possible, within our authority, to provide relief for Kansans. We urge all impacted families to follow these recommendations and stay up-to-date with information to care for their family’s needs.”
Here are some recommendations for families:
- Call your OBGYN or pediatrician to see if they can provide any resources to access formula or for suggestions on an alternative formula to meet their infant’s health needs.
- Switch to another brand or type of formula that is available if recommended by the infant’s physician.
- Contact their local WIC agency to see if the infant is eligible for WIC benefits.
- Contact smaller stores and drugstores that carry formula to see if they have products in stock.
- Kansas WIC families should contact their local health department or health agency for assistance in receiving substitute products when needed.
The KDHE strongly discourages using toddler formula to feed infants or watering down formula, or trying to make infant formula at home.
Meanwhile, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office offers the following guidelines to help parents make informed decisions when shopping and purchasing formula:
- Stick with trusted vendors. When purchasing formula, stick with trusted vendors that are well known and well established. This reduces your chances of falling for a scam, and gives you a real entity you can return to if there is a problem with the product you purchase.
- Know the seller. When shopping online, take the time to ensure you know who is trying to sell the baby formula. If it is an individual, see if the individual has publicly available information you can use to verify the person is who they say they are. If it is a business, check for reviews of the business to ensure they actually deliver the products people purchase.
- Beware of social media. Scammers use easy-to-access platforms like Instagram and Facebook Marketplace to target young parents who are more likely to need formula. They design advertisements to make it appear that they have formula on hand, when in reality they are using stock or old images. Scammers often appear as real people, impersonating someone else by using familiar names or believable profiles. Scammers also may join parenting online groups to target specific audiences through direct messages and group messages.
- Beware of fake websites. Any scammer can setup a seemingly believable website to appear as a legitimate baby formula vendor. Before you purchase from an unknown vendor, do your research on the vendor. If you cannot find anything on the vendor, or only find negative reviews, do not purchase from the vendor.
- Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it is easier to dispute charges that you did not approve or to get your money back if there is a problem. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards do not have the same protections as a credit card.
- Be aware of common scam tactics. If someone contacts you that you do not know offering to sell you baby formula, do not engage. This is most likely a scam. Scammers also use high-pressure tactics to get you to purchase now. They will warn you that their inventory is low, product is selling quickly, other buyers are waiting in line, or place extreme time deadlines on purchasing the product. If you feel pressured or feel suspicious, do not purchase from the person.
- Safety check the product. If you purchase baby formula from an individual, an unknown vendor, or a third party, make sure the product is genuine and safe. Due to the recent FDA recall, scammers may attempt to sell unsafe or expired products to unsuspecting parents. Check the FDA website to determine if the formula you have purchased is subject to a recall. Ensure the brand on the label matches the brand you believe you purchased. Confirm the expiration date and be certain the product will not expire before you are able to use it all. Examine the packaging for signs of tampering or damage. If the packaging includes a sealed lid, ensure the seal remains intact.
Consumers who believe they may have been the victim of a scam are encouraged to file a complaint with the Office of the Kansas Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-432-2310 or online at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.