White House announces plans to ease infant formula shortage amid concerns over bottle-fed children

KEY POINTS

  • Abbott Nutrition recalled several batches of infant formula from its Sturgis, Michigan, plant in February.
  • The White House seeks to expand access, increase imports and crack down on price gougers
  • Two of the four babies who developed bacterial infections after consuming Abbott’s products died.

The White House announced plans Thursday to ease a nation’s baby formula shortage that has raised concerns about non-breastfed babies and children with medical conditions who need special formula. The shortage was fueled in February when Abbott Nutrition recalled a group of dairy products following a series of Cronobacter sakazakii infections in infants who consumed the recalled products.

The Biden administration, as part of measures to alleviate shortages, seeks to crack down on price gouging of formula sales, increase imports and expand access to formula for citizens under the Women, Infants and Children program. (WIC), The Hill reported. A senior administration official said the government will continue to look for ways to help improve the production and distribution of baby formula. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said late Thursday that “hoarding” was the biggest problem.

There has been growing concern in recent months as the availability of infant formula became scarce. In particular, parents with children who need special formula and those who have little or no opportunity to breastfeed their babies have expressed frustration because of the shortage, The New York Times reported.

Some have resorted to rationing, including for children with special needs. The owner of Mount Carmel Pharmacy in the Bronx area, Roger Paganelli, told The New York Post that “hundreds” of children have no choice but to formula feed due to their medical conditions. “We are trying to balance and ration as best we can. It is a very delicate situation. These are tough decisions to make,” he said.

Abbott Nutrition, one of the nation’s largest suppliers, voluntarily recalled certain lots of Similac, EleCare and Alimentum powdered formula in mid-February following four reports of infants contracting an infection with the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii. These products were manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. the memory was expanded in March to include a large quantity of Similac PM 60/40. Two of the four babies who suffered from a bacterial infection have died, CNBC reported.

Abbott said the bacteria that caused the hospitalization of the four infected babies was found in a plant and not in the production areas where the products in question were made. The company has since closed the Sturgis plant and said all finished products tested were negative for Cronobacter sakazakii.

The shortage is already a problem in itself, but the possible scams related to the matter can become another problem. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​warned about possible scams arising from the shortage that will turn to parents in search of baby formula. The BBB said one of the possible scams is artificial positive reviews on a website selling formula to get people to trust it, after which the scammers cut off contact after a buyer makes a purchase.

The White House is expected to provide more details about its plans to ease the baby formula shortage in the coming days.

The United States is experiencing a severe shortage of baby formula, with a massive product recall compounding supply chain problems from the pandemic, sending families on a sometimes desperate hunt for vital supplies. The United States is experiencing a severe shortage of baby formula, with a massive product recall compounding supply chain problems from the pandemic, sending families on a sometimes desperate hunt for vital supplies. Photo: AFP / Stefani Reynolds

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