A TikTok showing a woman interviewing another woman at Target after she allegedly emptied a formula aisle has gone viral and sparked a lot of discussion on the platform.
The video, posted by user @chopnedits, shows a woman (who @chopnedits says is her younger sister and a first-time mom) asking another woman about the value of her entire basket of formula.
This TikTok currently has over 2.2 million views.
@chopnedits My younger sister, first-time mother…and that’s the shit young mothers have to deal with. #youngmothers #roevswade #formula ♬ original sound – Chopnedits
“You have quite a cart! Check this out!” the woman says in the video.
“But I need it for my baby!” responds the other woman.
“Don’t you think I need it for my baby too?” replies the woman.
Their interaction back and forth over the course of the video, with the formula buyer never giving in or offering the woman any of her formula.
“People like this cause the shortages,” reads the text that covers the video. “Not enough formula for the kids, but hey, let’s ban abortions.”
@chopnedits then posted the full video of the interaction.
@chopnedits Full video of the real #formulashortage ♬ original sound – Chopnedits
While takeovers like these would contribute in part to people’s inability to buy formula, there are bigger reasons why people find it so difficult to find formula in America today.
One company, Abbott, accounts for 40% of formula production in the United States, per Weather. In February, the company issued a recall of three popular infant formulas “after a type of bacteria linked to the hospitalization and death of multiple babies was found in [one of the company’s plants]”, Weather reported. Abbott reportedly denied that there is conclusive evidence linking this bacteria to disease and death.
However, Abbott has been accused of knowing about problems with his production before February. Salon reported that a whistleblower filing dated October 19, 2021 observed numerous issues with the plant, including faulty equipment that could lead to an outbreak of bacteria.
“A number of product flow hoses were pitting and leaving pinholes,” reads the complaint, quoted by Salon. “This allowed bacteria to enter the system and sometimes bacteria were not properly removed during clean-in-place (“CIP”) washes. This, in turn, caused the product flowing through the pipes to pick up bacteria that were trapped in the defective areas of the pipe.
A footnote, also cited by Salon, details that the “complainant was told by an operator that Sturgis site management was aware of the failed equipment between five and seven years from the [bacteria outbreak] occurring.
Despite these problems, which according to the complaint could have been solved with repairs and replacement of parts, Abbott apparently did not spend the money necessary to fix them. The company, which Guardian said they had “skyrocketed net profits[ing] by 94% between 2019 and 2021”, decided to rather “[increase] dividends to shareholders of more than 25% while announcing a share buyback program worth $5 billion.
On the ground, this means infant formula is getting much harder to buy, with no end in sight.
In the comments below @chopnedits’ video, users gave their own thoughts on why the woman was buying so much formula and the state of formula in the US in general.
“She sells for sure,” one user speculated.
“If there is a shortage, there should only be a limit of 4 per customer,” another user shared. “I get time, it’s hard but I have respect for others.”
While some have said people should breastfeed instead or find alternatives, as @chopnedits points out in a follow-up video, that’s not always possible.
@chopnedits Since you all want a pt2, here it is, #formulashortage #formulashortage2022 #sorrynotsorry ♬ original sound – Chopnedits
“Tell that to a fucking breast cancer survivor who lost both breasts, got pregnant and relies on formula,” he says. “In places where they don’t have limits, if you empty an entire shelf while there’s someone behind you obviously looking at formula, leave a few.”
Commentators supported this idea.
“No woman should have to explain why she isn’t breastfeeding,” said one user. “It’s nobody’s business but his!”
“Single dads exist too,” added another. “Obviously they can’t do the natural routes. »
“Let’s also remember that some children also need formula for serious medical conditions and it affects them too,” said a third.
The Daily Dot has contacted @chopnedits for comment.
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*First published: May 23, 2022, 8:54 a.m. CDT
Braden Bjella is a cultural writer. His work can be found in Mixmag, Electronic Beats, Schön! magazines, and more.