Monday, May 16, 2022

Senate Democrats pressure baby formula manufacturers to push more product

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats are calling out companies that make baby formula over a shortage of formula on store shelves nationwide.

“Formula is an important source of nutrition for newborns and infants, and this supply is lacking. put their health and development at risk,” 31 Senate Democrats led by Sens Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said Friday in a letter to the Council on Infant Nutrition of America, an industry Said in a letter. Business Group.

The Democrats wrote, “We are calling on you and your member companies to take immediate action and ensure that infant formula manufacturers are doing everything they can to reduce this dangerous shortage and provide babies with the nutrition they need.” ”

The letter is not a request for information or any specific action beyond increasing production and distribution. It is basically a rebuke of the industry amid a growing political blame game on the formula crisis with no easy solution.

Republicans have lambasted the White House for not reacting more aggressively, and some have questioned the Food and Drug Administration’s decision in February to close the Abbott Nutrition Factory in Michigan, which has been linked to a dangerous Cronobacter sakazakii bacterial infection in infants. associated with four cases. Two cases were fatal; The company has said there is “no evidence” its product is to blame, even though the FDA found unhealthy conditions at the plant.

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On Thursday, the administration announced a number of small policy steps aimed at increasing commercial supply of the formula. One measure would allow food vouchers in the Women, Infants and Children program to be used for a higher than normal range of formula products. The administration also said the FDA will soon announce moves to import more formula — the US currently produces about 98% of it domestically. But officials couldn’t promise that there would be more formula stocked on shelves soon.

Officials emphasized that more formula was produced in the United States in the past month than in the previous year.

Abbott is one of four firms that make up the Council on Infant Nutrition and produces most of the formula in the US. Even before Abbott’s Michigan plant closed in February, formula supplies were strained; Some members of Congress have suggested that industry consolidation contributed to the supply problem.

Murray and Casey first asked Abbott about its convenience in February. Casey and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Asked the FDA in April Why did the agency wait until February to ask Abbott to close its plant and recall affected products when consumer complaints first surfaced in September?

“Homemade infant formula recipes have not been evaluated by the FDA and may be lacking in nutrients important for an infant’s development,” warns one. Statement on the FDA website. “The FDA does not recommend that parents and caregivers make infant formula at home because of serious health and safety concerns. Potential problems with home formulas include contamination and deficiencies or insufficient amounts of important nutrients.”

However, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced legislation Thursday that would require the FDA to publish guidelines for “safely making formula at home,” despite the agency’s warnings.

Calling the FDA to act is just one example of how lawmakers are responding to the crisis. Other Republicans are choosing to exploit the shortfall for political gain by attacking undocumented immigrants. In particular, these MPs are effectively suggesting that children should be starved because of their immigration status,

“The Biden Administration Is Illegally Sending Pallets Of Baby Formula To Mothers And Their Babies While American Moms And Kids Are Not Getting Baby Formula,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) said at a press conference on Thursday. “This is completely unacceptable, and it needs to end now.”

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