OTTAWA – Federal authorities recognize that Canada faces a shortage of formulas for babies with food allergies and certain health conditions.
Health Canada says in an advisory Thursday that the supply of allergy-friendly formulas is not meeting demand in some provinces.
The statement comes amid widespread formula shortages south of the border following the closure of a major US factory, which also ships hypoallergenic formulas to Canada.
Health Canada says there are two types of formulas for babies with food allergies: extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid-based.
It says the shortage of extensively hydrolyzed formulas is putting pressure on the already limited supply of amino-acid-based products, which are intended for babies at risk of serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.
Health Canada says it is “critical” that these products are reserved for babies who need them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada is committed to ensuring its supply chains are “sufficiently resilient”.
“We need to make sure we look for solutions here in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters in Sept-Îles, Que.
“That we draw on the example of the United States, but we also have to be careful not to see consequences for Canadian families from the decisions made in the United States.”
On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, which requires suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfill orders from those companies ahead of other customers, in an effort to eliminate production bottlenecks.
Health Canada recommended on May 9 that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency temporarily suspend bilingual labeling and nutrient composition requirements to allow imports of infant formulas from Europe, thereby reducing Canada’s reliance on US suppliers.
The move would allow nine previously unavailable products from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany to reach the Canadian market, as well as eleven others from the United States.
Health Canada says the products must meet “high quality and manufacturing standards comparable to Canada’s.” The agency’s guidelines expire on June 30.
— with files from Stéphane Blais in Sept-Îles, Que. and The Associated Press
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 20, 2022.