Trudeau says government will do ‘everything we can’ to avoid U.S.-style formula shortage

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to reassure parents on Friday amid a nationwide shortage of baby formula designed specifically for infants with food allergies.

Asked about the situation during an announcement in Sept-Îles, Que., Trudeau said federal agencies are looking at the situation “very seriously.”

“Obviously, it is extremely important that we make sure that our supply chains are appropriately resilient for important things like baby formula,” he said.

“We’ve seen what’s happening in the United States. We need to make sure that we’re looking for solutions here in Canada, that we’re drawing from both the example of the United States, but also being careful not to see impacts on Canadian families from the decisions taken in the United States. I can assure you that all our various agencies are looking at this very seriously.

“We know that families are worried about their newborns, and we’re going to be there to try and make sure we’re doing everything we can to help them.”

On Thursday, Health Canada issued an advisory saying two types of products, designed for babies with food allergies and certain medical conditions, are in short supply, mirroring shortages in the United States.

The two products are hydrolyzed infant formulas and amino acid-based formulas, which are “critical” for babies at risk of anaphylactic allergic reactions, Health Canada says.

The department has asked doctors to facilitate the consumption of these products “only to babies who require them.”

Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan formula plant, the largest in the U.S., has been closed since February after U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors began investigating four bacterial infections in infants who consumed formula from the plant. All four were hospitalized and two died.

Although FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf has said no conclusion has been reached on whether bacteria from the plant caused the infant infections, Abbott has since recalled a number of its powdered Similac products.

The company also said there is no direct evidence linking its products to the illnesses. The factory could be up and running again by next week.

Health Canada said it is monitoring formula supply and working with manufacturers to import similar products.

With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Brooklyn Neustaeter and The Associated Press

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