Joe Biden has stepped up his administration’s response to a nationwide baby formula shortage that has forced parents to join online groups to trade and sell to each other to keep their babies fed.
The US president discussed with executives from major manufacturers Gerber and Reckitt how they could ramp up production and how his administration could help, and spoke with leaders from retail giants Walmart and Target about restocking shelves and addressing regional disparities. in accessing the formula, White told the house.
The administration plans to monitor possible price increases and work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands on imports, despite the fact that 98% of baby formula is made in the country.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce plans soon to increase the import of infant formula from abroad.
But Biden currently does not intend to invoke the Defense Production Act to force an increase in production at this time.
Meanwhile, the US House oversight committee plans to investigate the issue and will seek records from the four largest manufacturers, ABC News reported Friday, citing letters from the committee’s chairman.
“The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities across the country, particularly those with lower incomes who have historically experienced health disparities, including food insecurity.” said Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who heads the committee, writing in letters to Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestlé USA and Perrigo, ABC reported.
The issue is the result of supply chain disruptions and a safety recall, and has had a cascade of effects: Retailers limit what customers can buy, and doctors and health care workers urge parents to reach out. with food banks or doctor’s offices, as well as warning against diluting formula to stretch supplies or using DIY recipes online.
The shortage is hitting low-income families particularly hard after formulamaker Abbott’s recall due to contamination concerns. The recall eliminated many brands covered by a federal Women, Infants and Children (Wic) program, including as food stamps, though the program now allows brand-name substitutes.
The Biden administration is working with states to make it easier for Wic recipients to purchase different sizes of formula that their benefits might not currently cover.
About half of infant formula nationwide is purchased by participants using Wic benefits, according to the White House.
Clara Hinton, 30, of Hartford, Connecticut, is among that group. She has a 10-month-old daughter, Patience, who has an allergy that requires a special formula.
Hinton, who doesn’t have a car, has been taking the bus to the suburbs, going from town to town, finally finding something of the right formula at a box store in West Hartford. But she said the store refused to accept her Wic card, not the first time this has happened.
Hinton said her baby recently ran out of formula from an open can a friend gave her.
“She has no formula,” he said. “I just gave him normal milk. What should I do? Her pediatrician made it clear that I’m not supposed to do that, but what am I supposed to do?
In Utah, fellow Wic cardholder Elizabeth Amador has been going from store to store every day after finishing her job at a call center in Salt Lake City in a desperate search for a particular formula her daughter needs. nine months.
Recently he was down to just one can, but on Thursday he had four cans. She said that she will not stop her cumbersome daily routine until she knows that the shortage is over.
“It sucks, you know, because of high gas prices,” Amador said. “We have to drive everywhere to find the formula. It’s stressful.
Some parents are also using social media to bridge supply gaps.
Ashley Maddox, a 31-year-old mother of two from San Diego, started a Facebook group Wednesday after being unable to find formula for her 5-month-old son, Cole, at the naval base police station.
“I connected with a girl in my group and she had seven cans of the formula that I need that were in her house that her baby no longer needed,” she said. “So I drove, it was about a 20-minute drive, I picked him up and paid him. It was a miracle.
She said there was already a stigma attached to being a non-breastfeeding mother and the group has become supportive.