Friday, August 12, 2022

Biden says he wasn’t informed early on about baby formula crisis

by zeke miller

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he had not been informed about the prospect of a nationwide shortage of infant formula for nearly two months as he acknowledged the strain on families while his administration is dealing with the situation. was fighting for.

Yet in a meeting held from the White House, company officials told the president they knew enough of the implications that a February shutdown of a major production plant would have an almost immediate impact on US supplies.

“He did, but I didn’t,” Biden later told reporters, adding that he was not made aware of the seriousness until early April.

Under Biden, the government has imported foreign supplies and used the Defense Production Act to spur domestic production. But those moves didn’t start until mid-May, when retailers started supplying rations and store shelves were empty.

“Nothing is more stressful than realizing that you’re not getting what your child needs,” Biden said, adding that as a “father and grandfather,” he understands that parents and their children. How difficult has the shortage been for.

Biden hosted a roundtable with leaders from manufacturers Bayhart, Babbs Australia, Reckitt, Perrigo Company and Gerber. Particularly absent was Abbott Nutrition, whose Michigan plant was closed in February over safety concerns, leading to domestic shortages. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on why Abbott was not involved.

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Wednesday’s meeting was an opportunity to provide an update on what the administration is calling “Operation Fly Formula” to import formula and to use Korean War-era production legislation to help suppliers ease production barriers. You need to prioritize your orders.

Despite Biden’s remarks about not being informed of the impending crisis, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration began taking action within days of the plant closure.

“We’ve been doing this whole government approach since the recall,” she said. “We have been working on this for months, months. We are taking this incredibly seriously.”

She acknowledged that Biden is “disappointed” with the situation.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that the third and fourth rounds of formula shipments from overseas will begin next week in the UK from manufacturers Kendamill and Bubs Australia.

The White House said the latest round of shipments would bring Kendmill Formula from London’s Heathrow Airport to US airports over a three-week period beginning in June. 9. Flights will carry approximately 3.7 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents, which are shipped free of charge by United Airlines.

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The first shipments will include Kendamil Classic Stage 1 and Kendamil Organic Formulas, which will be available at Target stores across the United States.

Bubs Australia will ship the equivalent of 4.6 million 8-ounce bottles of its infant formula on commercial aircraft contracted by the Department of Defense on June 9 and 11, respectively, from its hub in Melbourne, Australia.

An emphasis on imports will help, but may not immediately address the supply crunch, which has left people facing empty shelves or limits on purchases.

The Food and Drug Administration began focusing on Abbott’s plant last fall while tracking multiple bacterial infections in babies who consumed formula from the facility. Four cases occurred between September and January, leading to hospitalizations and two deaths.

After positive samples of the rare but dangerous bacteria were detected in several parts of the plant, the FDA closed the facility and Abbott announced a mass recall of its formula on February 17.

US regulators and Abbott announced a deal last month that would help pave the way for the plant to reopen, although production has not resumed.

Nation World News Desk
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