West Virginia’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) within the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health is announcing additional flexibilities for WIC participants following the recent recall of powdered infant formula manufactured at Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an investigation into four complaints of infant illness related to products produced at the Sturgis, Michigan, facility from Sept. 6, 2021 to Dec. 18, 2021. Abbott issued a voluntary recall of powdered infant formula from Similac, Alimentum or EleCare and one lot of Similac PM 60/40.
If a WIC customer purchased baby formula included in the recall with WIC benefits, the product may be returned to the store where it was purchased for an exchange for the same product (not included in the recall), a liquid form of formula, a different size container or a different brand. Each store establishes their own return policy. WIC participants may contact their local WIC clinic if there are difficulties with store exchange.
An additional waiver granted from the USDA Nutrition Services allows flexibility in addressing the options of available formulas, expanding the brands of baby formula allowed for purchase with WIC benefits without the need for medical documentation. In addition to Similac, WV WIC will offer Enfamil and Gerber products as well as store private labels for a period of time. If a child has a special need for hypoallergenic formula, a medical prescription is still required.
“The West Virginia WIC Program applauds the retailer community’s quick response during the pandemic-related nationwide supply chain issues that have been exacerbated by this recall,” said Heidi Staats, director of the office of nutrition services. “Likewise, WIC nutritionists are strongly discouraging parents from feeding their infants homemade formula while diligently sharing alternatives to recalled products and techniques for transitioning formula.”
WIC provides pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 with nutritious, supplemental foods. The program also provides nutrition and breastfeeding education and referrals to health and social services. WV WIC builds its public health nutrition services from the backbone of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The WIC program continues to offer virtual certification and benefit issuance, as well as virtual nutrition services and breastfeeding education.