Harmful DIY Baby Formula Videos Go Viral on Social Media

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Regarding the baby formula crisis, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden told parents to simply hang in there because her husband was “on it.” But babies keep getting hungry and parents are getting worried. In the meantime, there now are harmful DIY baby formula recipes that are going viral on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. Parents seem to be desperate for alternatives since the store shelves remain empty. And according to a report by Bloomberg, these posts that are getting thousands of views are not being removed or labeled consistently.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised parents in February to not use certain powdered baby formulas due to bacterial infections that were found in infants. This led to five hospitalization and two deaths.

The Abbott company, which owns the Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare brands, issued a voluntary recall that same month. Other manufacturers, along with Abbott, recalled baby formula products and this led to shortages and retailers limiting how much could be purchased by an individual.

In the chaos, Twitter posts that focused on homemade baby formula increased by 2,100%. There were 5,000 tweets in the 2nd week of May, according to Bloomberg. The report also indicated that you could find instructions on how to make baby formula at home on Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Some of the posts have thousands of views.

One social media outlet, YouTube, noted that dangerous recipes violated their harmful content policies and removed the videos.

“We remove content that promotes, sells, or provides instructions for making homemade baby formula under our Harmful & Dangerous policies. Accordingly, we removed the videos raised by Bloomberg,” YouTube said.

TikTok also said that they would delete the videos that were highlighted by Bloomberg. But Twitter said that the videos did not breach their misinformation policies, but they would review their practices.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, told Bloomberg that they would use external content reviewers to put warning labels on baby formula misinformation.

During all this, President Biden released a plan this month to address the crisis with baby formula. He is invoking the Defense Production Act to give manufacturers priority to get key ingredients

The chief executive of Abbott, Robert Ford, wrote in the Washington Post this weekend that the company had “let down” families, but he believed that the voluntary recall was “the right thing to do.”

The president also announced a plan to import baby formula from other nations. This plan is called Operation Fly Formula, and the first haul should arrive from Europe this weekend.

The FDA is standing on its position to advise parents not to make formula for infants because it has not been reviewed and could lack vital nutrients that would support an infant’s growth.

Federal agencies have warned that it’s triggered infant calcium deficiencies and just last week, two young patients in Memphis, Tennessee, were hospitalized because they didn’t have access to the specialized formula they needed.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has said that nutrition deficiencies from homemade formula have already been showing up in hospital data. One viral recipe encourages the use of raw milk in its formula. But raw milk is illegal in many states and it can pose particular risks for children.

Although the problem of viral baby formula videos is new, harmful medical content online is an ongoing global problem for many. With such risks for parents around the globe, one of our questions should be: Why was a plant that was shut down in February not back open and producing product today?