[Note: I’m not going to let this become a breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding debate, and comments of that nature will be deleted.  That topic is worth discussing, but it’s not germane to the focus of this article.]

Abbot, makes of the popular Similac brand of infant formula, are recalling 5 million containers of its product.  The recall is tied to the presence in a beetle that can result in irritation to the gastrointestinal tract of infants, causing them to lose their appetite.

I received a call in the early morning from my son’s day care center, letting us know that his container of Similac was among the lots getting recalled.  I set out on a search for a replacement can from a non-affected lot.

I was great annoyed to see that every store I went to (6) had simply yanked ALL containers of Similac from the shelves instead of actually checking to see if the product was among the recalled units.  Eventually, I found a box of “single serving” packets (nt included in the recall) and bout them.  They are, of course, quite a bit more expensive per ounce than the larger containers.

It annoyed me that stores were taking the easy way out.  It this was a product like, say, pretzels or peanuts, I wouldn’t have a concern with such a slash-and-burn approach.  Infant formula is a bit different.  It is staple of the infant’s diet, and many infants can be quite brand loyal, refusing to drink a different brand.  This can be a real problem, as you can’t really reason with the infant to get them to drink.

The main annoyance, though, was at Abbot’s response to the recall.  They posted information on their web site, including a place where you could type in the lot numbers from your containers in oder to determine if they were in the recall.  Unfortunately, the site was completely down last night, and only partially functional this morning.  Why?  No doubt because of heavy volume.

This is not the first time that a manufacturer’s web site has succumbed to heavy traffic in the aftermath of a recall.  The same thing happened when some formulations of Tylenol were recalled a while ago.

It’s almost as if companies are under the impression that it’s not possible to quickly add more capacity to their web servers.  That’s not true, of course.  There are a multitude of companies that would gladly rent them the hardware necessary to handle spikes in volume.  It it quite common for companies to do this when they anticipate surges in traffic – it’s much cheaper than permanently upgrading their infrastructure.

I’m not sure why we have to go down this road every time there is a major recall.  Perhaps the Consumer Product Safety Commission could even have information about the recall on their own site, and have a deal with the web hosting provider to rent extra capacity when the need arises – they could then bill the manufacturer at a set rate (in theory, they could get a better deal from the web hosting companies by offering repeat business).

I’m not sure what the exact answer to these problems are, but things MUST get better.