US President Joe Biden – Photo: REUTERS
According to CNBC, Mr. Biden is asking suppliers to ship ingredients directly to formula manufacturers, prior to any other companies that may have placed an order. It is not clear which key suppliers are subject to this directive.
The Defense Production Act gives the president the authority to direct companies to prioritize production and distribution of goods in response to a crisis.
Biden also directed the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture to use Department of Defense aircraft to procure infant formula from abroad that met U.S. health and safety standards.
Parents in the US have struggled to find formula for their babies since Abbott Nutrition closed its factory in Sturgis, Michigan due to bacterial contamination.
In February, Abbott recalled brands of formula made at the factory after four infants fed the products made there fell ill with a bacterial infection, two of which died. death.
The US Department of Justice said Abbott had introduced adulterated infant formula into the consumer market. Abbott asserts that there is “no convincing evidence” that its milk causes infant sickness and death.
Abbott reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration on May 16 to reopen the factory, subject to federal court oversight. Those conditions include hiring independent experts to ensure that the plant meets U.S. food safety standards.
According to CNBC, the US produces 98% of the formula used domestically. Four manufacturers – Abbott, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA and Perrigo – dominate the US market. When a factory of these firms is shut down, the supply chain is very likely to be disrupted.
The FDA is increasing imports of infant formula from other countries to help alleviate shortages. To sell formula in the US, companies must apply to the FDA, which reviews it to make sure the product is safe and provides adequate nutrition.
However, Democratic lawmakers this week said the FDA doesn’t have nearly enough inspectors to make sure imported formula is safe.
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