Biden uses Defense Production Act to tackle US baby formula crisis

Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to address the shortage of infant formula by speeding production and authorizing flights to import it from abroad, as experts warned desperate parents not to concoct their own “home brew” alternatives.

The safety-related closure of the nation’s largest formula manufacturing plant has seen a nationwide squeeze on supply. The Defense Production Act order requires suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfill orders from those companies before other customers, in an effort to eliminate production bottlenecks.

Biden is also authorizing the US defense department to use commercial aircraft to fly in from overseas formula supplies that meet federal standards, in what the White House is calling “Operation Fly Formula”.

“Bypassing traditional cargo routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call Thursday.

Under pressure from parents and lawmakers, the official acknowledged that availability varied by state and said the administration was prepared “to pull every lever” to address the shortage.

Supplies of baby formula across the country have been severely curtailed in recent weeks after a February recall by Abbott exacerbated supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on store shelves and anxious parents struggling to find nutrition for their children.

Although baby formula has already been affected by pandemic-related supply chain problems, the nationwide shortage has severely worsened in the three months after Abbott’s recall, which occurred as a result of illnesses and deaths among infants.

3월, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning to consumers, urging them to be aware of certain products branded Similac, Alimentum and EleCare that have been recalled.

The FDA launched an investigation after complaints emerged of bacterial infections in four infants who consumed powdered infant formula produced in Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Michigan.

According to the reports, all four infants were hospitalized and the bacterial infection may have contributed to the deaths of two of them.

All four cases involved the Cronobacter sakazakii infection, 어느 에 따르면 the FDA “can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine)”. Cronobacter infections are rare but are especially high-risk for newborns, 기관이 말했다.

As a result of the recall, 약 30% of popular baby formula brands may be sold out across the nation, according to an analysis by Datasembly, which assessed supplies in more than 11,000 stores.

The shortage has hit poorer families the hardest. Nearly half of the baby formula in the country is bought under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, 과 Children, also known as Wic. Wic is primarily aimed at helping low-income women and their children across the nation.

Abbott provides formula to approximately half the infants who are receiving Wic benefits and is just one of the four companies that produce approximately 90% of US formula.

이번주 초, Abbott reached an agreement with US health regulators to resume production at its largest domestic factory. The factory, located in Sturgis, Michigan, has been under investigation in recent months due to safety concerns. Monday’s legally binding agreement between the company and the FDA outlines various steps the company needs to take to reopen its plant.

그럼에도 불구하고, despite the agreement, Abbott has said that it will take between six and eight weeks before more formula starts arriving on American shelves.

그동안, parents have been warned not to concoct their own formulas at home. 최근 몇 주 동안, experts have seen parents using 60-year old 조리법, diluting formulas and creating other homemade alternatives.

According to experts, such so-called “home brews” can be dangerous due to challenges with sterility, and insufficiency in critical nutrients such as iron.

“The standard by which we develop infant formula is breast milk. We’ve come to understand breast milk better and better,” Steven Abrams, former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on nutrition, 조사 보고서는 또한 8월에 the BBC. “If they’re not breastfeeding, [the formula] has got to have all the nutrients in there”.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents to check smaller stores and drug stores for formula and to buy formula online from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies.

It has also 말했다 that cow’s milk may be an option if a child is older than six months and is usually on regular formula. 그럼에도 불구하고, such an alternative is “not ideal and should not become routine,” the organisation said.

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