Georgia WIC No Longer Requires Returned Formula to be Destroyed

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
baby formula

Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: Reversal of policy requiring the destruction of unused formula

Overview: Because of the nationwide shortage of baby formula, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has reversed a 2019 policy requiring the destruction of formula returned to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) facilities. 

Location: Georgia, United States

Population: 10.9 million

Food policy category: Food security

Program goals: To increase access to baby formula for more families. 

How it works: From October 2021 until May 20, 2022, any formula returned to Georgia WIC offices, even if unused and not yet expired, had to be discarded for safety reasons. Because there was no way to be sure if the unused formula had been stored properly and at the appropriate temperature, it was deemed safer not to redistribute it. 

The policy was based on nonbinding federal guidance. Its reversal now allows WIC clinics to donate returned, unused, and unexpired formula cans to local food banks for redistribution. 

Progress to date: The Georgia Department of Health’s WIC Director, Sean Mack, issued a memo on May 20 reversing the former policy. 

Why it is important: Since November 2021, baby formula has been in short supply across the United States, with out-of-stock rates reaching 70 percent nationally at the end of May, and many families are struggling to provide their babies with the nutrition that they need. 

One Georgia news source reports that from October 1, 2021, through May 17, 2022, 16,459 containers of formula were returned to Georgia WIC and destroyed. Now, unused and unexpired returned formula will not be destroyed and can be redistributed through food banks to families in need.

Program/Policy initiated: Mack called for WIC clinics to start donating returned formula immediately following his May 20 memo. 

Point of contact: 
Sean Mack, WIC Director, Georgia Department of Public Health
Phone: 404-657-3140

Nancy Nydam, Director of Communications, Georgia Department of Public Health 

Similar practices: Georgia WIC offices have also received FDA approval to temporarily increase the maximum monthly allowance of WIC formula for participants who have the option of using more than one brand of formula. 

Evaluation: Evaluation has not yet been conducted.

Learn more:


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