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Video shows supermarket confrontation over last of baby formula

Video shows supermarket confrontation over last of baby formula
Social media users called for parents to ‘have respect for others’ amid wait for supplies

A supermarket confrontation between two mothers over baby formula has shone a light on the everyday struggle some parents are facing amid a nationwide shortage.

In a video uploaded to TikTok by user @chopnedits on 10 May, a “first time mother” videos herself  walking down an empty supermarket aisle with a handful of baby formula bottles left on a shelf.

Approaching another shopper with more than two dozen bottles in her trolley, the TikTok user said: “Look at all this, look at the shelves. You don’t think I need it for my baby too? You just cleared the whole shelves of all of this formula”.

The mother who she confronted, who tried to defend her actions, said she did not know the TikTok user would want the same brand of formula.

That was despite a highly publicised shortage of the product and there being almost no other alternative on the shelf in the store, which was allegedly a Target in Massachuessts.

Saying she would be the one paying for all the formula in her trolley, the other shopper said she would have shared if the mother behind the camera had asked while she was taking the bottles from the shelf.

“And I’m not paying for it?,” the TikTok user asked. “I have a child at home to feed and you just cleared the entire [aisle]…I was waiting patiently, was I not waiting patiently?”

The young mother, whose older brother uploaded the clip to his TikTok, ended the confrontation by labelling the other woman’s actions as a cause of the nationwide shortage. She also wrote in an overlay that there was “not enough formula for kids but hey let’s ban abortions”, in reference to Republican-backed attempts at reversing abortion rights and Roe v Wade.

“This is the whole reason why there’s a formula shortage,” she continued, becoming angrier. “You take all the formula off the shelf and buy it all at once, and there’s kids who need formula today who won’t be able to get it because you just bought it to stock up”.

She then added: “That’s not your problem, right?”

The TikTok, which has amassed more than 550,000 views, ends with the mother with the baby formula turning her back on the camera and walking away.

Dozens of TikTok users posted in the comments below the video, with many saying supermarkets did – or should not – allow customers to purchase formula in bulk.

“If there is a shortage there should only be a limit of 4 per customer,” one person argued. “I get time are hard but have respect for others”.

Another user said stores including Target had recently introduced such restrictions on shoppers, who took multiple bottles of baby formula at once, “at least at my store, not sure if it nationwide, but it looks like they have signs”.

The same user wrote: “She would be stopped at the register if it’s in effect at that store, it’s easy to slip thru self-checkout because the system doesn’t usually block it”.

A TikTok user who claimed they worked at the same store from the TikTok told others that there was in fact a block on self-checkouts to stop customers buying baby formula in bulk.

The Independent has approached the supermarket chain for comment.

On Tuesday, congressional Democrats introduced two bills to increase funding to restore baby formula supplies, but 192 Republicans blocked the bill. It will now head to the Senate.

The shortage, which began in February, is mainly because of global supply chain disruption and the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) closure of a Michigan plant operated by Abbott over safety fears.

Abbott is one of the four biggest producers of baby formula in the US and has since come to an agreement with federal regulators to restart prodution at the plant, which could take up to 10 weeks for formula to reach stores, the company recently said.

Republicans have meanwhile laid the blame on US President Joe Biden and Democrats for failing to predict the apparent crisis, although they are expected to block the $28m (£22m) proposed by the president’s party to help the situation.

The Biden administration has also invoked the Defense Production Act to force suppliers of baby formula ingredients to prioritise shipments.