OTTAWA – Federal authorities are acknowledging that Canada is facing a shortage of formulas for babies with food allergies and some health conditions.
Health Canada says in a Thursday advisory that supplies of allergy-friendly formulas aren’t meeting demand in some provinces.
The statement comes amid widespread formula shortages south of the border after the shutdown of a large U.S. manufacturing plant, which also ships hypoallergenic formula to Canada.
Health Canada says there are two types of formula for babies with food allergies: extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid-based.
It says that the shortage of extensively hydrolyzed formulas is straining the already limited supply of amino acid-based products, which are intended for babies at risk of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.
Health Canada says it’s “critical” that these products be reserved for babies who need them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday Canada is looking to ensure its supply chains are “appropriately resilient.”
“We need to make sure that we’re looking for solutions here in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters in Sept-Îles, Que.
“That we’re drawing from 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.”
On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act requiring suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfill orders from those companies before other customers, in an effort to eliminate production bottlenecks.
Health Canada recommended on May 9 that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency temporarily suspend bilingual labelling and nutrient composition requirements to allow infant formula imports from Europe, and thereby reduce Canada’s reliance on U.S. suppliers.
The move would allow nine previously unavailable products from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany to reach the Canadian market, as well as 11 more from the United States.
Health Canada says the products must meet “high quality and manufacturing standards similar to Canada.” The agency’s guidance is set to expire June 30.
— with files from Stéphane Blais in Sept-Îles, Que. and The Associated Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.