The U.S. shortage of baby formula has several causes — from supply chain problems to formula recalls — but charitable giving is not among them, despite social media claims.
A May 12 post on Facebook suggests that donations of baby formula to Ukraine are related to the current shortage.
The post shows side-by-side screenshots of two news headlines. One is dated March 7, 2022, and says, “Operation Ukraine boxes baby formula to send overseas,” and the other, dated May 12, 2022, says, “Baby formula shortage hits parts of the U.S.” The dates are circled on each story.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
There is no evidence the donated baby formula contributed to U.S. shortages, which are attributed to supply chain problems that began during the COVID-19 pandemic, plus the recall of some formula that led to a manufacturing plant shutdown.
The headline about Operation Ukraine is a reference to a 22-year-old Columbus, Miss., nonprofit that gathered $10,000 worth of baby formula to ship to Ukraine in March, a Mississipipi television station reported.
One 21-ounce can of Enfamil formula costs around $30, so $10,000 would purchase about 333 cans — not nearly enough to have an effect on the nationwide shortage.
Causes of the U.S. shortage are described by Bloomberg as “long-term economic pressures collid(ing) with a sudden supply shock.” The long-term issues are related to the pandemic, which led to supply chain and shipping disruptions, as well as labor shortages. And the supply shock, Bloomberg explained, came when Abbott Laboratories recalled its baby formula and shut down a Michigan manufacturing plant because of concerns about contamination.
The claim that donations of baby formula to Ukraine are related to the current U.S. shortage is unfounded. We rate it False.