The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it is “doing everything” to fix baby formula shortages resulting from supply chain problems and a recall that was ordered earlier this year after two infants died from bacterial infections, the White House said.
Amidst the highest inflation in decades, an escalating war in Ukraine triggered by the Russian invasion and the ongoing pandemic, the Biden administration is now dealing with panic from coast to coast over baby formula shortages.
An outbreak of cronobacter infections that sent at least four babies to hospital with two deaths led to the Feb. 17 shutdown of a major manufacturing plant run by Abbott Nutrition in Sturgis, MI. Abbott recalled a number of infant formulas sold under the brand names Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.
As soon as the recalls went into effect, news media across the country reported that parents said they were having problems finding powdered infant formula. About 31 percent of formula products were out of stock across the country as of April, according to retail software company Datasembly.
However, the FDA reported that more infant formula was bought in April than in the month prior to the recall, according to Food Saftey News.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a May 9 press briefing that the FDA is working to make sure baby formula is available to consumers.
Availability of the product is “a priority for the FDA and they’re working around the clock to address any possible shortage,” Psaki said. “I don’t believe there’s a national stockpile of baby formula.”
The FDA outlined the steps it is taking to address the shortages, which include meeting with infant formula manufacturers, monitoring supply and moving to expedite production.
The baby formula shortages have led retailers including Amazon and Target to limit the amount of formula people can buy online and in stores.
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Contributing to the shortages are a voluntary recall of powdered infant formula from an Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan, earlier this year, and a warning from the FDA against using certain products. These caused added strain to existing supply chain issues.
A Republican lawmaker used the shortages as an opportunity to ramp up pressure on President Biden.
“Tennessee parents are struggling to find baby formula. What is Joe Biden doing to help families?” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in. “You can’t find baby formula in the United States right now, but Congress is voting today to send $40 billion to Ukraine. Let’s put America First for a change,” he tweeted.
Photo: Baby formula is displayed on a grocery store shelf in Carmel, Ind., May 10, 2022. Parents across the U.S. are scrambling to find baby formula because of supply disruptions and a massive safety recall. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)