Australian mums have been left high and dry as demand for “safe” baby formula in China fuels a massive shortage.
Fearful Chinese parents are turning to Australian-made products after a number of deadly domestic formula scares, including one contamination incident in 2008 that killed six babies and made 300,000 others sick.
It means Australian made formulas such as the a2 and Bellamy’s Organic ranges are quickly running off the shelves. The surge in demand has left many Australian mums complaining they can’t source the brands they’ve always fed their babies.
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It’s sparked reports of people stripping supermarket shelves of quality formulas, knowing they can be resold for enormous profit to Chinese buyers desperate for safe products.
Coles and Woolworths have now limited the amount of formula customers can buy in one transaction to four units. Not all supermarkets are following the directive though, with some determined customers still managing to purchase formula in bulk to on-sell.
To add to parent’s pain, the federal government says it will only intervene in the premium baby formula shortage as “an absolute last resort”.
“I don’t think government intervention is something we really want to see,” Assistant Minister for Trade Richard Colbeck told ABC TV on Thursday.
Although Aussie parents are fuming over the shortage, Senator Colbeck said it was testament to Australia’s international reputation for supplying safe food.
“Booming international demand for our high quality dairy products is great news for our local dairy industry but we must also ensure supply is available locally,” he told the ABC.
Desperate parents are being warned not to try and brew their own formula at home, as a homemade recipe could damage the child’s kidneys, liver and brain.
Dietitian Sheridan Collins told the Daily Telegraph baby formula is designed to be as close to breast milk as possible: “It’s a very fine formulation of micro nutrients and macro nutrients to get the perfect balance to be sufficient for growth and development for the infant.”
She continued: “If they’re not in the right quantities they could be dangerous and have an impact on the baby’s gut or on their kidneys and other aspects of their development.”