WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is offering formula manufacturers and retailers transportation and logistics support to ease the nationwide shortage of baby formula, as the administration works to bring the largest domestic plant back on line after it was shut down early this year due to safety issues.
The White House said it is working with all major formula producers to boost production, including reaching out to their suppliers to encourage them to prioritize production and delivery of formula ingredients. It comes as the Biden administration has come under intense pressure over the last week to do more to ease the shortage of formula that has forced parents of infants to go to significant lengths to feed their children.
The shortage stems from a February recall by Abbott, the nation’s largest formula maker, that shuttered the company’s Michigan plant and exacerbated ongoing supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on stores shelves across much of the country. The shortage has led retailers like CVS and Target to limit how many containers customers can purchase per visit and forced some parents to swap and sell formula online.
On Monday, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that the federal agency is “working really closely with Abbott” to reopen the closed Michigan factory and he expects that “in a very short period of time we’re going to have an announcement about the path forward.”
Califf said an announcement is forthcoming about importing baby formula from abroad, noting that the key is making sure the instructions for the formula are in languages that mothers and caregivers can understand.
The FDA warned families against making their own baby formula because it has 30 distinct constituents that have to be in the right amount, otherwise the formula can possibly be dangerous to consume.
Abbott’s voluntary recall was triggered by four illnesses reported in babies who had consumed powdered formula from the Michigan plant. All four infants were hospitalized with a rare type of bacterial infection and two died.
After a six-week inspection, FDA investigators published a list of problems in March, including lax safety and sanitary standards and a history of bacterial contamination in several parts of the plant.