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Amid formula shortage, Ky. AG warns of scams as organizations offer help

Daniel Cameron speaking at the 2020 RNC (screengrab).
Daniel Cameron speaking at the 2020 RNC.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is warning parents to be wary of scams related to the nationwide baby formula shortage.

A warning to parents

In a statement, Cameron says scammers might try to take advantage of the situation by posing as sellers online, asking for payment upfront and not delivering the product. 

He advises parents to purchase formula from known, reputable sources, to avoid paying upfront and to use a credit card when possible. 

“Scammers often attempt to take advantage of those in stressful situations, and right now that can include Kentuckians who are desperately trying to find formula for their babies,” Cameron said in the statement. “We encourage parents to report suspected baby formula scams to our office immediately at ag.ky.gov/scams.”

The nationwide shortage stems in part from a Michigan plant that issued a voluntary recall and ceased operations in February, after several infant illnesses and deaths. Federal inspectors found violations at the manufacturer, but have not tied the company directly to those illnesses. 

NPR reports President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act and “Operation Fly Formula” Wednesday to help expedite the manufacture and shipping of formula across the U.S. 

Help amid the shortage

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends parents in need of formula contact their local Community Action Agency, which may be able to provide formula or connect parents with organizations who can. 

Locally, that includes the Louisville Metro Resilience and Community Services and Community Action of Southern Indiana

Calling United Way’s 211 number can help connect parents with food pantries and other resources. 

And people in need can find a food bank, which may be able to help, by searching here

Parents should check with their OB-GYN or pediatrician to see if the provider may have samples or can suggest a similar formula with more availability. 

The CDC says parents should not water down formula, try to make their own at home or use toddler formula for infants. The organization also says caregivers should check the lot number on any formula they may have, and not throw it away unless it is part of a recall

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that in urgent situations, parents should check smaller stores and look online for their child’s formula. There are also social media groups dedicated to helping parents find formula. 

In all cases, the organizations say parents should check with their pediatricians for advice.


Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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