President Biden has announced plans to address the recent shortage in baby formula across the US that scared parents during these past few weeks.
Baby formula (also known as infant formula or infant milk) is a form of powdered milk, made from cow’s milk, but altered to be especially suitable for babies. It’s typically used as food for infants under one year of age and it is particularly important for mothers that cannot breastfeed or for babies with particular allergies. Regular cow milk or milk powder (which is for adults only) does not contain all the ingredients a baby needs to grow healthy.
A week before now, Biden had already assured the nation that the shortage was a top priority for his administration and that he would have a response within a few days.
The announcement posted on May 18th outlines the plans to solve the issue.
The urgent action invokes the Defense Production Act, a move that will require ingredient suppliers to prioritize baby formula manufacturers over other clients in the interest of national safety.
Prior to Biden’s announcement, The White House had already approved a $28 million dollar injection to the Food and Drugs Administration, as well as loosening restrictions on formula purchases in the country.
This also marks the beginning of Operation Fly Formula, which will see federal planes bringing formula from overseas.
All of the imported formulas must meet the standards for health and safety from the Food and Drugs Administration. This same process has been used recently during the Coronavirus pandemic, and the goal is simply to bypass airfreight routes and get the ingredients to the US much faster.
These two moves combined aim to solve the shortage of formula on both ends: first by enabling national manufacturers to resume production as soon as possible, and second, by bringing formula to local shelves from abroad for the most immediate needs.
This is the official announcement President Biden published on Twitter:
“I’m taking two new steps to increase baby formula supply:
- Invoking the Defense Production Act to increase domestic production
- Launching Operation Fly Formula to use federal planes to fly formula in from abroad
We're making sure safe formula gets to all who need it.”
Republicans showed resistance to the emergency infusion of $28 million to the F.D.A., also noting their dissatisfaction that the F.D.A. was not being held accountable for the shortage issue in the first place.
Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, refutes this notion: “Anybody who says that that’s too much money to spend for the safety and well-being of our babies, I just don’t agree with. Period.”
At current, no one has been blamed directly for the nationwide shortage of baby formula. The head of the F.D.A., Dr. Califf, will be appearing before the House Appropriation Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
We will likely know more about what led to such a tragic shortage soon, though right now it seems all efforts are being made to solve the issue.