Biden Administration announces actions to curb infant formula shortage | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

According to a White House statement, on February 17, 2022, the largest infant formula manufacturer in the country — Abbott Nutrition — initiated a voluntary recall of several lines of powdered infant formula made at its Sturgis, Michigan facility, following concerns about bacterial contamination at the facility after four infants fell ill. This incident has combined with supply chain stress associated with effects of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to cause an acute disruption in the supply of infant formula in the United States. Residents in the Cayman Islands, which relies on imports from the United States, were also reportedly impacted by the disruption.

This week, the Biden Administration announced a number of measures to start producing more infant formula and curb the national shortage which has also impacted nearby countries. These are summarised below.

Invoking the Defense Production Act

To ensure that manufacturers have the necessary ingredients to make safe, healthy infant formula here at home, President Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA). The President is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good. Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains.

Launching Operation Fly Formula

To speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula to stores as soon as possible, President Biden has directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use Department of Defense (DOD) commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster. DOD will use its contracts with commercial air cargo lines, as it did to move materials during the early months of the COVID pandemic, to transport products from manufacturing facilities abroad that have met Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards. Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production.

Earlier this week, FDA and Abbott agreed on next steps to reopen Abbott’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan, which was closed due to concerns about bacterial contamination after four infants fell ill.

FDA also announced guidance that will allow major formula manufacturers to safely import formula that is not currently being produced for the U.S. market.

The Administration continues to urge states to cut red tape and implement WIC flexibility, as USDA wrote to states in a letter last week.

The Administration remains in close touch with manufacturers and retailers to identify transportation and logistical needs to increase the amount and speed of FDA approved formula being shipped into the country, and ensure that formula is quickly moving from factories to retailers.

(Source: White House)