The nationwide baby formula shortage has left some parents desperately searching for their trusted brand as store shelves remain bare.
Some social media users are advising people who can’t find their baby’s formula to switch their Amazon accounts from the U.S. to Canada.
VERIFY viewers reached out about the posts through email and Facebook to ask if they could switch their Amazon accounts from the U.S. to Canada to buy baby formula. Google Trends data also show that people are searching for information about how to buy formula from Canada and other countries outside of the U.S.
Will Amazon Canada ship baby formula orders to U.S. parents?
No, Amazon Canada won’t ship baby formula orders to U.S. parents. Though some third-party sellers who sell their items independently on Amazon may do so, experts warn against buying formula products from other countries.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to Amazon, U.S. customers can’t purchase baby formula products from Amazon Canada if they are sold and shipped by Amazon or sold by third-party sellers and shipped by Amazon.
VERIFY tested the social media claim by trying to purchase a baby formula product sold and shipped by Amazon.ca and ship it to an address in Washington state. We received an error message that said the item could not be shipped to the selected address.
Third-party sellers can sell their items independently on Amazon. If their items aren’t fulfilled by Amazon, the seller will ship the order to you and handle customer service. VERIFY found some third-party sellers on Amazon who are selling baby formula products for high prices with quoted shipping prices to the U.S. of more than $30.
Though some third-party sellers on Amazon Canada may ship baby formula to the United States, medical experts like Jennifer Lightdale, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, warn against it.
“The formula that you’re buying from overseas is just not regulated the way we’re used to formula being regulated here in the United States. So even though things have clearly gone a little bit wrong right now, overall, we are used to high standards of quality and our government in general has done a great job of making formula very safe,” Lightdale said.
Lightdale also expressed concerns over “predatory activities” online as parents search for baby formula.
“You might think you're buying it [formula] from Canada, but somebody's giving flour in a can,” she said. “It would be very scary…if you don't really know who you're buying it from. So importing formula is just not advised.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against buying imported formulas online for a variety of reasons, including the lack of regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), concerns that imported formulas may not be shipped or stored correctly, and recall notice delays.
Infants have become sick or died from tainted formula products manufactured outside the U.S. The FDA was notified of six adverse events linked to imported European formulas in 2016 through 2017, according to a parenting website from the AAP. News of a recall in the country where a formula product is made might not reach the U.S. right away, either.
According to Children’s Hospital of Colorado, European baby formula products are illegal to sell in the U.S. because they aren’t regulated by the FDA.
The ongoing baby formula shortage in the U.S. is due in part to a major recall of some products manufactured at Abbott Nutrition’s production facility in Sturgis, Michigan.
Abbott Nutrition said on May 16 that it has entered an agreement with the FDA on steps to resume production and maintain the facility in Sturgis. The agreement is subject to approval from the FDA and a court.
After FDA approval, Abbott could restart the site within two weeks, but it would take at least six to eight weeks before formula products are available on shelves, the company said. In the meantime, Abbott will continue to import formula from an FDA-registered facility in Ireland.
President Joe Biden has also discussed with executives from Gerber and Reckitt how they could increase production, and talked with leaders from Walmart and Target about how to restock shelves and improve access to formula, the White House said. The administration also plans to work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands to increase imports of baby formula.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.