Similac Recall and Response - Today's Outrage

Hey Similac. Thanks for the recall, but next time build a Web site than can handle the onslaught of traffic from concerned parents.
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BOSTON (TheStreet) -- As if being a new father wasn't challenging enough in dealing with the Similac recall, Abbott Laboratories (ABT) - Get Report did a swell job in ratcheting up my aggravation by operating a Web site and call center that is equally as flawed as its powdered infant formula.

On Wednesday, certain containers of

Similiac powdered infant formula

were yanked from store shelves as part of a voluntary recall. It turns out that a few beetles somehow found their way into a production facility, which has resulted in beetle bits and larvae being present in some Similac products.

The news reports last night sent both my wife and I into a tizzy as we frantically tried to check whether the Similac we give to our 7-month old daughter was affected by the recall. Numerous attempts to connect to Similac's Web site from 6 p.m. ET until 11 p.m. ET were unsuccessful for us. We tried the toll-free phone number as well but had no luck getting through.

Turns out we weren't alone.

"We've been trying the Website and

phone number for hours and have not been able to get through. Similac needs to resolve this immediately," one user posted on a Yahoo! Answers board.

Similac Recall 2010: Affected Lot Numbers >>

Another user on Similac's Community message board said that after trying to get through the busy signal for over an hour, "it just had a recording that said go to the Website! It is

ridiculous to not have this information

accessible to consumers. Now the website is down."

According to an


affiliate in Ohio,

Abbott said it has increased its call center and Web

resources to handle the gigantic spike in call volume and Web traffic. Ironically, my attempts to contact Melissa Brotz, Abbott's vice president of external communications, by phone yielded only busy signals.

Luckily for my family, we posted the lot numbers of our Similac formula on Facebook and a kind friend was able to connect to Similac's Web site. She confirmed our fears: The Similac formula we have is part of the recall. Thankfully, we had reserve powdered formula we can use until we scour the store shelves tonight for a new brand of powdered formula.

Not all parents are as lucky. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that the formula containing these beetles poses no immediate health risk, although infants could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort. I'm sure that's little comfort to parents with vomiting babies, who spent hours on the Internet or on hold Wednesday night searching for answers.

The headache for

Abbott Laboratories

isn't a major one. The company said it expects a $100 million hit to sales in the third quarter, although the Similac recall isn't expect to affect earnings. The company confirmed its earnings guidance range of $1.03 to $1.05 a share.

So thank you, Abbott Labs, for making my life as a new father a little more hectic with the Similac recall. I'm glad to hear your business won't be impacted nearly as much as the lives of millions of parents.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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