Business News

Skittles, Starbursts and Life Savers gummies recalled due to reports of metal strands

FDA

(NEW YORK) -- The maker of Skittles, Starburst and Life Savers gummies announced a voluntary recall over the possible "presence of a very thin metal strand embedded in the gummies or loose in the bag."

"We received reports from consumers alerting us to this matter and are not aware of any illnesses to date," Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC said in its announcement.

The recall impacted 13 product SKUs ranging from 3.5-ounce to 12-ounce share size bags of gummies.

Click here for the full product list and additional packaging details from the Food and Drug Administration.

"Products were manufactured by a third party and distributed in the United States, Canada and Mexico," the company said.

Consumers can locate the 10-digit manufacturing code on the back of the package. The first three digits will indicate if it's included in the recall.

"Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC will work with retailers to remove recalled products from store shelves," the company said. "If consumers believe they have purchased a recalled item, they should dispose of the product and not consume it. Consumers with questions can contact the company by calling 1-800-651-2564 or by visiting https://www.mars.com/contact-us."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Buffalo community rallies to support access to fresh food in wake of supermarket shooting

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(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- In the wake of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, organizations are rallying to support the local community and ensure residents have access to affordable and fresh food.

Ten people were killed and three others were injured in the shooting, which took place Saturday afternoon at a Tops Friendly Markets supermarket in the predominantly Black Kingsley neighborhood. All of the victims who died in the attack were Black, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has described the shooting as an "absolute racist hate crime."

Tops officials said in a statement on Twitter Sunday that the store location where the shooting took place would be closed until further notice.

The closure means the surrounding East Side community is now a food desert, as the supermarket served as the lone grocery store within walking distance for many residents.

Both the grocery store chain and local and state officials, as well as a number of other groups and businesses, have since stepped in to ensure that the community is not left without access to fresh food.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday announced a partnership with Uber and Lyft to provide residents free rides to and from nearby grocery stores.

"We are in touch with Uber and Lyft and they have offered to take people from these zip codes if they need to go to a grocery store in another area, because a lot of people in this neighborhood, they walk to the grocery store, they don't have transportation,” she said.

Riders in the designated zip codes can receive a ride to and from two local grocery stores, Tops Friendly Markets and Price Rite.

"Lyft riders can use the code ‘BuffaloLyftUp’ for up to $25 in the Lyft app. Uber riders can use the code ‘SHOPBUF’ in the Uber app for up to $20 off a ride, with a maximum of eight rides per customer," the governor's office said in a statement.

The Buffalo Community Fridge network, a local mutual aid organization that helps address food security and stocks community refrigerators with fresh produce and prepared meals, also saw a massive influx of donations and volunteers over the weekend and has stepped in to assist residents.

After a call for support following the shooting, one of the group's community fridge sites shared on social media that it received multiple donations. The group on Sunday stated that while it is no longer accepting monetary donations, it will still accept food donations for its various locations, to ensure fridges are stocked with plenty of groceries for those in need.

FeedMore WNY has partnered with the Resource Council of WNY to distribute food items. Slow Roll Buffalo, a group that connects community members through guided bike rides, also stated it would be helping to distribute items during its Monday night community ride.

In New York State, 10.5% of people struggle with food insecurity, according to Hunger Solutions New York. The coronavirus pandemic also created a large spike in food insecurity across the country.

In Buffalo, according to FeedMore WNY, which is backed by Feeding America, more than 14% of residents do not have access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Memorial Day Weekend 2022: Shop sales on fashion, beauty and home starting now

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(NEW YORK) -- It’s almost hard to believe that we’re approaching the summer of 2022 -- but we’re here for it.

To kick off the summer, many brands are offering major deals and discounts on everything from fashion and beauty products to home and outdoor garden necessities.

But you don’t have to wait until Memorial Day weekend to shop -- there are plenty of sales happening now so that you can prepare for any weekend festivities.

Check out some of the sales below:

Aerie
Shop 40% off all swimsuits with free shipping and free returns when you buy swim. You can also shop 25-60% off Aerie's collection (including 700+ new arrivals).

Asos
Shop an extra 30% off Asos’s sale section with code MORE.

Best Buy
Shop featured deals through May 22 at Best Buy on categories like TVs and projectors as well as video games, laptops, tablets, kitchen appliances and more.

Express
Shop an extra 50% off for up to 70% off clearance styles at Express.

Gap
Take 40% off everything with code FRIEND, going on now at Gap.

J.Crew
Right now, J.Crew is offering 25% off full price styles and an extra 50% off sale styles. You can also take 50% off full price with the code SUNNY.

Levi’s
Get 30% off orders of $150+ at Levi’s right now.

Nordstrom
Shop the sale section of Nordstrom for deals on everything from shoes and dresses to home décor, beauty and electronics.

Revolve
Get dressed for your Memorial Day weekend dinner party with up to 65% off at Revolve.

West Elm
Snag up to 50% off new clearance styles as well as up to 50% off outdoor living now at West Elm.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FDA commissioner says agency looking to boost baby formula supply

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the Food and Drug Administration is finalizing a plan to import more baby formula to the U.S. amid a nationwide baby formula shortage.

"We are moving on the product that was intended for other countries," Califf told Good Morning America Monday. "And I anticipate that by the end of the day today, we'll have a detailed announcement about how that's possible."

"Remember that the instructions need to be in a language that can be understood by mothers and caregivers that are putting the formula together for these infants and also, we have to be able to test the formula to make sure that the 30 required constituents are actually there in the right amounts," he added.

Federal regulations require baby formula to include 30 nutrients in various amounts, such as vitamins A, D and E, as well as protein and fat.

The makeup of baby formula is crucial since having too many or not enough nutrients can harm a baby and lead to serious health consequences.

Califf warned parents and caregivers not to try making homemade formula as a substitute for formula.

"That's a very bad idea, because formula, as I said, has 30 constituents and have to be there in the right amount," the commissioner said. "Ten of which, if they're there too much, if there's too much of that constituent, can be dangerous. So formula for infants is a total substitute for breast milk ... so we need the infant formula. It's critical for so many families but it's got to be the right stuff."

The FDA is also working closely with domestic baby formula manufacturers, according to Califf.

"We're working really closely with Abbott and I expect in a very short period of time, we're gonna have an announcement about the path forward. I think we figured out what to do," Califf told GMA. "Abbott's recently indicated that in as short as two weeks, they can be in action and begin to do their part and getting supply back on the shelves. Of course, it takes longer to get in full motion."

Last week, Abbott, one of the country's largest baby formula producers, said that pending FDA approval, it would restart their plant in Sturgis, Michigan, a facility that makes many specialized formulas, including EleCare and Alimentum hypoallergenic baby formula products. A recall in February led to the facility's temporary shutdown after concerns linked the plant to a bacterial outbreak.

On average, nationwide, 40% of baby formula is out of stock and states like South Dakota and Missouri have seen 50% out of stock, according to data firm Datasembly. The crisis has hit families of children with allergies and health conditions more acutely.

Amy Dolan, of Flanders, New Jersey, has a son, Connor, who needs specialized formula.

Connor has a milk protein allergy and his parents have been searching high and low for the specific baby formula he relies on.

"We've been actively looking all the time. Every night, we lay in bed and we're checking what websites we can find and how much it's gonna cost," Dolan told GMA. "People saw it as an opportunity to buy all this formula and, you know, price gouging parents who will pay anything."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


McDonald's exiting Russia after more than three decades

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(NEW YORK) -- After more than 30 years in the country, McDonald’s announced on Monday it is pulling its golden arches from Russia.

The fast food chain said it is exiting the Russian market and has begun the process of selling its business there.

The move comes after McDonald’s temporarily shut down its restaurants and paused operations in Russia back in March following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

"The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values," the company said in a press release.

"We’re exceptionally proud of the 62,000 employees who work in our restaurants, along with the hundreds of Russian suppliers who support our business, and our local franchisees. Their dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s make today’s announcement extremely difficult," McDonald’s president and CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement. "However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values. And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the Arches shining there."

The company says it will prioritize ensuring that the employees of its Russian market will continue to be paid until its restaurants are officially sold.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, McDonald’s restaurants there remain closed. The company says it is continuing to pay full salaries for its employees in Ukraine while also supporting local relief efforts.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Elon Musk says he paused Twitter deal over fake user accounts: Why they matter

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(NEW YORK) -- Tesla CEO Elon Musk's $44 billion bid to purchase Twitter struck an unexpected roadblock early Friday morning when he tweeted that he had put the deal "temporarily on hold," citing concern over the prevalence of bot and spam accounts on the platform.

Nearly two hours later, Musk assured observers that he remains "committed to acquisition." But damage had been done. The price of Twitter shares plunged Friday, closing more than 9% down.

Market analysts said the worry over fake accounts could serve as a pretext for Musk to bargain a lower price for the acquisition or abandon the effort altogether. The share prices of both Tesla and Twitter have fallen in the weeks since Musk reached a deal to purchase the social media platform, on April 25, potentially making the acquisition less attractive for Musk.

"I believe he's still committed in theory, probably at a lower price," Dan Ives, a managing director of equity research at Wedbush, an investment firm, who closely follows the tech sector, told ABC News. "It starts to be a boy that cried wolf."

An unpredictable figure, Musk defies an easy assessment of his thinking. But he has expressed concern over fake accounts on previous occasions. On April 21, days before he reached the deal to acquire Twitter, Musk tweeted: "If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!"

There are two main explanations for why Musk could be worried about fake accounts. First, there is the threat they pose to the company's business model. Second, there is their potential to undermine the credibility of the platform as a site of authentic discourse between real users.

Twitter generates the vast majority of its revenue through advertising to users on the platform, which means its business depends to a significant degree on the number of users who see the ads displayed by the company.

In the first quarter of this year, the company reported 229 million users who accessed Twitter on any given day on a platform on which they could be shown ads, which amounted to a 15.9% increase from the same quarter a year ago. The company reported $1.2 billion in revenue for the first quarter of this year, of which $1.11 billion came from advertising.

If the number of spam or bot accounts on Twitter is larger than the company has estimated, then it could cut into that number of monetizable users and the amount of ad revenue they generate. In turn, that could damage Twitter's bottom line.

An accurate estimate of the number of fake accounts is important "given that establishing an accurate number of real tweeters is considered to be key to future revenue streams via advertising or paid for subscriptions on the site," Susannah Streeter, a senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told ABC News in a statement.

In prior comments, Musk has stated another source of worry over bot accounts that centers on how they could undermine the role Twitter plays as a "de facto public town square," as he has described it. If Twitter posts cannot be trusted as real remarks from actual human beings, then the value of the discourse on the platform deteriorates.

"There is so much potential with Twitter to be the most trusted & broadly inclusive forum in the world!" Musk tweeted on May 3.

"That is why we must clear out bots, spam & scams. Is something actually public opinion or just someone operating 100k fake accounts? Right now, you can't tell," he added in a follow-up tweet minutes later.

Public interest in fake accounts on social media platforms intensified in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, when it was found that Russian operatives had used false accounts to spread misinformation on a massive scale. In 2018, Twitter escalated its efforts to remove fake or suspicious accounts, suspending more than 70 million such accounts in May and June of that year, the Washington Post reported that July.

For its part, Twitter has acknowledged the challenge of accurately estimating the number of fake accounts on the platform. In the public filing this month in which it stated that fake accounts make up less than 5% of users, Twitter added a note of caution about the figure: "In making this determination, we applied significant judgment, so our estimation of false or spam accounts may not accurately represent the actual number of such accounts, and the actual number of false or spam accounts could be higher than we have estimated."

Last month, Musk reached a deal to buy Twitter at $54.20 a share, which amounted to a 38% premium above where the share price stood before it was made public that Musk had been purchasing company stock.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Musk over a delay in notifying regulators of a 9.2% stake in Twitter he took earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Likewise, the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the acquisition over the possible violation of an antitrust reporting rule.

Ives, the analyst at Wedbush, said the announcement from Musk on Friday puts the outcome of the acquisition in question.

"This continues to be a circus show that really puts the deal in uncertainty," he said. "The chances of a deal getting done is probably less than 50% now."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


House Oversight opens investigation into baby formula shortage: Exclusive

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(WASHINGTON) -- The House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation into the nationwide shortage of baby formula, and demanding records and information from four of the largest manufacturers.

"The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities across the country -- particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health inequities, including food insecurity," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote in letters to Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA and Perrigo, obtained first by ABC News.

The committee is investigating potential price gouging and the steps the companies have taken to address the shortage impacting families across the country.

"We have asked for a briefing by the end of the month, and we've asked three basic questions: Do they have the supply to meet the demand? Is there a supply chain problem that can be corrected? And what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again?" Maloney told ABC News.

President Joe Biden spoke to major retailers and manufacturers on Thursday about how to boost supplies for American consumers, according to senior administration officials, as some retailers have limited the number of formula purchases each customer can make.

"While we are a small player in the infant formula market, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help get parents and caregivers the formula they need so their babies can thrive," a Nestlé spokesperson told ABC News. "We have significantly increased the amount of our infant formula available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as in hospitals for those most vulnerable."

The White House has also called the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to investigate potential price gouging. The Food and Drug Administration could also announce ways the U.S. can import more formula from abroad.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans blamed the Biden administration for the shortage, which is due in part to Abbott halting the production of four formulas at its production facility in February due to bacterial infections that led to two infant deaths.

The company said it could restart production in two weeks, subject to FDA approval, but that it could take more time for production to boost domestic supplies. The company said investigation found no evidence linking the infections to the plant.

"This should never happen in the United States," said Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, a member of House GOP leadership and mother of an eight-month-old boy.

Republicans Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma and Randy Feenstra of Iowa have also proposed legislation to streamline the import of formulas produced overseas.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has also scheduled a hearing on the topic later this month, and could ask regulators and representatives from Abbott to testify, according to a committee aide.

Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, and Perrigo have not responded to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


How home gardens can save you some green on fresh produce amid inflation

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(NEW YORK) -- As prices to fill the fridge steadily rise, some savvy Americans are getting straight to the source to dig up new ways to save.

Grab some soil, a shovel, seeds and gloves, because home gardening could be the start to a produce solution.

With Consumer Price Index estimates that fresh vegetable prices will rise nearly 5% this year and fresh fruit prices will increase almost 7%, experts suggest planning meals with seasonal produce to keep costs down.

Bonton Farms founder Daron Babcock, whose farm yields 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of food each year, told ABC News' Good Morning America that farming produce begins with education. He shared some steps to get started.

"We have people coming and learning how to [garden] that want to come and learn how to do this in their own backyard," he said.

According to the National Gardening Association, home gardeners who hope to grow their savings should look for plants that can grow and boast big yield in a small space, such as tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers.

A small packet of lettuce seeds can cost around $2 and could yield enough for a summer's worth of greens, providing hundreds of dollars in savings.

Michael Pratt turned a gardening hobby into a savings cornucopia and told GMA, "Not only do we get better tasting fresh vegetables -- it doesn't hurt your pocket."

He said he's bought "significantly less" produce from the store, adding that now "it's only proteins and non-growable things" at the grocery checkout.

"It's hundreds of dollars a month that we no longer have to spend," he said.

For others looking to start a home garden of their own, Pratt suggests researching what plants grow best in the area.

Although some people don't have living arrangements where gardening is an accessible option, there are some investments and options to ultimately save.

For example, apartment dwellers can focus on growing fresh herbs in containers on window sills or shop for a hydroponic and vertical indoor farming system.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Moms turn to social media for help amid baby formula shortage

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(NEW YORK) -- Mothers around the country are turning to social media and leaning on each other for support as the national baby formula shortage continues to strain families in multiple states.

Alleyah Gaines is a first-time mom who’s had difficulty trying to find baby formula for her 7-month-old baby Kairo.

"I even went as far as traveling outside of my city to try to find it and I still couldn't locate it," Gaines told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Gaines went online to try to find a solution for her child and that’s where she found a local Facebook group in the Killeen, Texas, area where she and her family live and connected with Nadette Branche, another mom in the group.

Branche just so happened to have extra baby formula at home and posted about it in the Facebook group.

“When I was pregnant, people had given me boxes with formula in them,” Branche explained to GMA. “But I produce enough milk for my baby and I really didn't have any use for it.”

Gaines noticed Branche’s post and knew she had to reach out.

”I quickly commented and I was like, you know, ‘Can I please get this formula?’ And she was like, ‘Yes, of course,’" Gaines recalled. “I just was so ecstatic.”

The baby formula shortage has only grown in the last three months, with the crisis compounded by pandemic-related supply chain issues and a recall by Abbott Nutrition, one of the leading baby formula manufacturers in February.

Abbott, which makes the popular baby formula products under the Similac brand and specialized formulas Alimentum and EleCare, said this week it plans to resume production at its Sturgis, Michigan, facility once it gets FDA approval after a recall in February shut the plant down.

The White House said Thursday the Department of Agriculture was relaxing restrictions for those receiving Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children or WIC benefits and letting them use their benefits for more baby formula products and asking stores to loosen regulations around baby formula product stock. On Friday, ABC News also exclusively learned that the House Oversight Committee was launching an investigation into the national baby formula shortage.

For Jae Coleman of Seattle, baby formula for her 5-month-old twin boys has been nearly impossible to find in her area.

“I found myself going to eight to 10 grocery stores just to find formula for him,” Coleman said. “It really frustrates me to see that there are people who don't have their basic needs met.”

Coleman’s experience led her to start a Facebook group called “Find My Formula,” which helps parents and caregivers find and distribute baby formula products to those in need. Since April, the group has grown to more than 550 members.

“This has become a full-time job for me,” Coleman said. “It really keeps me going. It really reminds me that this is needed and this is necessary.”

Moms told GMA that people looking for baby formula should check local mom groups online, where parents may be swapping formula, giving away extra formula they may have, or sharing which stores they’ve been able to find formula. They also suggested asking friends and family members in other states to help search for formula in their local stores.

Dr. Steven Abrams, a professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, told GMA previously that parents can ask their child’s pediatrician and local hospitals for help.

"It's harder for people who are more isolated from cities or more rural, and that's where they can look online. If it's one of those super-specialized formulas like EleCare, sometimes the pediatrician will be able to connect them with a formula representative that can help them. Sometimes the hospital may have a small supply they can use," Abrams said.

And when it comes to baby formula, doctors and experts say parents and caregivers should remember never to dilute or try to make their own homemade formula, as the nutrient makeup of the formula may not be sufficient and can be dangerous or life-threatening for babies.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Senate bill would create federal watchdog for Big Tech

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(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Michael Bennet on Thursday introduced a bill that would create a federal watchdog for the oversight of Big Tech companies, empowering the new agency to address controversial issues like algorithm bias and transparency in content moderation.

The bill from the Colorado Democrat comes as the tech giants face heightened scrutiny from both sides of the aisle in Congress, which has generated high-profile hearings and adversarial rhetoric but has struggled to pass legislation.

The latest push for reform follows a series of bombshell revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen as well as an agreement among European Union lawmakers over a landmark law that would closely regulate the sector. The Washington Post first reported Bennet's bill.

“As a country, we should take pride that most of the world’s leading tech companies were founded in America. But they aren’t start-ups anymore. Today they rank among the most powerful companies in human history,” Bennet said in a statement on Thursday.

“It’s past time for a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to regulating digital platforms that have amassed extraordinary power over our economy, society, and democracy,” he added.

The new agency would develop and enforce rules that regulate company conduct, mimicking the role played by oversight bodies that police pharmaceutical drugs or media standards, according to a summary of the bill provided by Bennet’s office.

The proposed legislation calls for the formation of the Federal Digital Platform Commission made up of five members, who would hold hearings, carry out investigations, and implement new rules. The agency would also include a Code Council featuring individuals from the industry and civil society who can offer further technical expertise, the bill summary said.

The bill will likely face a difficult path to passage in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow 50-50 majority due to a potential tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. While some Republicans have criticized Big Tech firms over perceived anti-conservative bias and other faults, they have also shown a reluctance to expand the regulatory reach of the federal government.

Meanwhile, some Big Tech leaders have expressed support for a sector-specific regulatory agency like the one outlined in the bill. At a congressional hearing in March 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said a new agency “could be very effective and positive for helping out.” Microsoft President Brad Smith last month at a privacy summit signaled his approval of such an oversight body.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), led by legal scholar and Big Tech critic Lina Khan, serves as a major regulatory agency for the tech giants. Last July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that called on the FTC to develop rules on data collection and to challenge prior company mergers. But progress on regulation at the agency remains limited.

In a separate effort from the Biden administration, the Justice Department has brought a lawsuit against Google over alleged antitrust violations.

Current watchdogs have proven insufficient for the new challenges posed by the tech industry, said Tom Wheeler, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission who called the proposed bill “historic.”

“Our existing regulatory agencies were built in the industrial era on industrial-age concepts, and the challenge of 21st-century regulators is: How do you take statutes built in response to entirely different realities and relate them to what’s happening in the digital world?” said Wheeler, who previously called for the formation of such a watchdog.

“Let’s create an inherently digital agency," he added.

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Baby formula maker Abbott says it plans to restart production amid shortages following recall

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(NEW YORK) -- Following an internal investigation, Abbott Nutrition said it will resume production of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare baby formulas once the Food and Drug Administration gives the company the green light.

The latest update from Abbott comes amid a national baby formula shortage that has only grown worse in the last three months, with an estimated 40% of formula brands out of stock at stores nationwide as of April 24, according to tracking firm Datasembly. Stores like CVS and Walgreens also previously confirmed to Good Morning America that they were limiting formula purchases to three per customer due to short supplies.

Parents have also been speaking out about the crisis and the White House said the FDA is "working around the clock" to address the problem.

In response, President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the Department of Agriculture is loosening restrictions under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, more commonly known as the WIC program, that would let families "use their WIC benefits on a wider variety of products so that if certain sizes or types of formula are out of stock, they can use their benefits on those that are in stock," according to a press release. The White House also said the USDA is encouraging all states to relax rules that require stores to keep a "certain amount of formula in stock."

Other steps the White House noted they're taking include boosting imports of formula and calling for the crackdown of formula price gouging and monitoring unfair market practices.

Earlier this week, the public outcry on the formula shortage spurred Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to urge the FDA and the USDA "to initiate contingency plans to mitigate shortages that risk the lives of infants across the nation" in a letter released Tuesday. South Dakota House Rep. Dusty Johnson also released a letter Wednesday, questioning the FDA's "lack of action" on the formula shortages.

Abbott halted production in February after Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products were recalled due to bacterial infections that led to two infant deaths. The FDA and Abbott launched investigations into the baby formula products and FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf said Tuesday in a statement, "We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it."

Abbott released its own statement Wednesday and said a "thorough review" had been completed. "There is no evidence to link our formulas to these infant illnesses," the company said in part.

Abbott also said it has been responding to feedback from an FDA inspection that included a list of suggested improvements for their manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan.

"Subject to FDA approval, we could restart the site within two weeks," the company said. "We would begin production of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas first and then begin production of Similac and other formulas."

The formula maker estimated new products would be available on store shelves six to eight weeks after manufacturing.

"We deeply regret the situation and since the recall, we've been working to increase supply at our other FDA-registered facilities, including bringing in Similac from our site in Cootehill, Ireland, by air and producing more liquid Similac and Alimentum," the company added. "We also began releasing metabolic formulas that were on hold earlier this month at FDA's request to those who need these unique formulas."

As families continue to navigate through formula shortages, experts warn that caregivers remember two key points: Do not dilute baby formula and do not make your own formula.

Diluting formula can lead to nutritional deficiencies and be life-threatening for babies. Making your own formula and feeding it to a baby can also lead to injury or even death, if the correct amount and type of nutrients are insufficient. The FDA provides additional formula guidelines on its website.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mattel's latest lineup of diverse dolls includes a Barbie with hearing aids

Courtesy of Barbie

(NEW YORK) -- Mattel's latest launch of Barbie dolls keeps diversity and inclusion at the forefront.

The toymaker has released this year's new 2022 Barbie Fashionista collection with several new dolls including the first Barbie with behind-the-ear hearing aids, a doll with a prosthetic leg, a Ken doll with vitiligo and much more.

The first-of-its-kind doll with visible hearing aids is styled wearing a floral print dress, pink booties and a high ponytail.

"Ready to make waves? Dip into new #Barbie Fashion Dolls – our most diverse and inclusive doll line, offering a variety of skin tones, eye colors, hair colors and textures, body types, disabilities, and fashions, to inspire even more stories," the brand captioned a photo revealing the exciting new lineup.

Barbie's new doll with hearing aids was created to further expand the Fashionistas line to reflect people with disabilities such as hearing loss, and to accurately portray the hearing aids, the company tapped leading educational audiologist and hearing loss advocate Dr. Jen Richardson.

Richardson shared in a statement that she felt "honored" to have worked with Barbie for the release of its doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids. "As an educational audiologist with over 18 years of experience working in hearing loss advocacy, it’s inspiring those who experience hearing loss reflected in a doll. I'm beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them.”

Since revealing the new doll on Wednesday, lots of people have already praised Barbie for promoting representation within its latest offerings.

"My daughter is so excited that there will finally be a Barbie that has hearing aids like her," Laura Ford said in a comment. "We have modified so many dolls so they have puff paint hearing aids but it is definitely not the same as being able to see her go into a store to purchase a doll that looks like her. Thank you!!!!"

Two years ago, Barbie was also praised for introducing its first doll with vitiligo which ended up being one of its best Fashionistas sellers in the U.S. that year. This year, the brand is expanding to include a Ken doll with vitiligo to allow for more storytelling and reach an even wider community of children.

Other amazing additions include Ken options with short hair and new dolls with different body types. These dolls will accompany other successful launches such as a doll with a wheelchair and a Black doll with a beautiful afro hairstyle.

"Barbie wholeheartedly believes in the power of representation, and as the most diverse doll line on the market, we are committed to continuing to introduce dolls featuring a range of skin tones, body types and disabilities to reflect the diversity kids see in the world around them," said Mattel executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls Lisa McKnight.

She continued, "It's important for kids to see themselves reflected in product and to encourage play with dolls that don't resemble them to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion."

The new 2022 Barbie Fashionista collection will be available in June at a variety of mass retailers.

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WHO accuses tobacco industry of 'greenwashing' in new report

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(NEW YORK) -- Companies like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International don’t typically come to mind as environmental stewards. But a new report from the World Health Organization and STOP, a global tobacco watchdog, outlines how the tobacco industry has been working to rehabilitate its image by showcasing sustainability efforts that critics claim is a form of “greenwashing.”

The term, which refers to a form of disinformation published by an organization to appear to be environmentally friendly, is a common practice in numerous industries.

“This kind of activity gives the impression that the tobacco industry is socially and environmentally responsible,” the report warns. “Yet this industry is causing an incalculable toll on health to smokers, non-smokers and farmers. And not only is tobacco harming humans, it is also damaging the environment.”

The report says its goal is to call on governments to ban tobacco industry greenwashing and to avoid partnerships with cigarette companies engaged in environmental activities that could promote the industry as an environmental partner.

The website of British American Tobacco (BAT), for example, promotes news releases with headlines such as, “BAT in Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for 20th Consecutive Year” and “BAT recognized as Climate Leader by the Financial Times.”

Philip Morris International (PMI) has a full sustainability landing page on its website that outlines everything from a low-carbon transition plan to “achieving a smoke-free future” that the company says can be done in a sustainable manner.

But critics have pointed out that many environmental, social and governance (ESG) rankings and accreditations, like the ones BAT and PMI promote on their websites, rarely consider a company’s end-product or service, in this case, ignoring the fact that tobacco products are harmful to human health, according to the report.

The report says there are more than 600 different ways to assess corporate ESG activity and there are no global, standardized disclosure requirements for companies to follow, which means businesses can edit sustainability data to promote a favorable outcome.

PMI declined to comment on the report because they said they had not reviewed it.

"Some well-funded anti-tobacco lobbying groups with strong links to WHO are committed to shutting down debate and closing doors to cooperative efforts that can drive better outcomes for the world. We take a different approach. Philip Morris International (PMI) is fully in favor of complete disclosure and encourages open and honest, fact-based dialogue with all stakeholders," the company said in a statement to ABC News.

The statement added, "The company regularly shares updates on our sustainability objectives and achievements at PMI.com/sustainability. Our Integrated Report 2020 shows the progress we are making toward a world without cigarettes. (The company’s forthcoming Integrated Report 2021 will be published on May 17, 2022.)"

BAT did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

In addition to the greenwashing examples, the report highlights the ecological impact of the tobacco industry. Annually, 32 million tons of tobacco leaf is grown globally to produce 6 trillion cigarettes, the report notes.

It takes about 22 billion tons of water to grow the global crop, or the equivalent of 8.8 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, often in places where water is limited, the report says. It is estimated that nearly 1.5 billion acres of global forest have been lost to tobacco farming since the 1970s, according to the report.

Electronic cigarettes are no less friendly to the earth, the report says.

The report notes that “e-cigarette waste is potentially a more serious environmental threat than cigarette butts since e-cigarettes introduce plastic, nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury, and flammable lithium-ion batteries into waterways, soils and to wildlife.”

Among its recommendations, the report says it is calling on all governments, especially those who are members of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to ban greenwashing activities. It is also calling on environmental and sustainability accreditation organizations not to endorse industry greenwashing or provide awards to the tobacco industry.

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Consumer Price Index up 8.3% in April

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(WASHINGTON) -- Inflation eased slightly last month, according to the latest figures released Wednesday by the Labor Department.

The Consumer Price Index rose 8.3% in April compared to the same time period last year -- a drop from the 8.5% increase in March.

Month-to-month, prices were up 0.3% last month compared to March. Increases in prices for shelter, food, airline fares and new vehicles were the largest contributors to the increase, the Labor Department said.

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New Old Bay-seasoned Goldfish will roll out later this month

Pepperidge Farm

(NEW YORK) -- For snack purists, original Goldfish may be the perfect poppable bite, but for those in search of something bolder than cheddar or parmesan, there's a new line that adds a cult-favorite flavor to the mix.

Goldfish hooked up with Old Bay to create a limited-time offering made with the zesty, bold taste of Old Bay.

Fans of the Baltimore-based seafood seasoning brand are notoriously passionate about the blend of 18 herbs and spices used on everything from crab boils to a limited-time hot sauce that sold out within an hour of release in 2020.

"The Old Bay and Goldfish teams knew they had to join forces to deliver a delicious, one-of-a-kind snacking for fans and foodies, alike," a representative for the brand said in a statement.

The popular spice blends black pepper, paprika, celery salt and red pepper flakes to complement the classic taste of Goldfish.

The new Goldfish will roll out nationwide with a limited quantity available on the McCormick website in early May.

Each 6.6-ounce bag will be sold for $2.79 and can be found at a nearby location using the Pepperidge Farm website.

This also marks the second limited-time offer licensed ingredient partnership with McCormick. The popular Goldfish Frank’s RedHot ranked at the time as the fastest-selling launch of summer 2021.

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