US President Joe Biden acknowledged the pressure on families due to the national shortage of powdered baby milk and announced new shipments of the product from Europe.
Biden met with milk powder makers today as his government tries to resolve the situation by importing foreign supplies and using the Defense Production Act to speed up domestic production.
In a statement, the White House said that the third round of shipments of powdered milk from abroad will begin next week, specifically from producer Kendamil, in the United Kingdom. Shipments from Bubs Australia will also be delivered next week.
“There’s nothing more stressful than feeling like you can’t get what your child needs,” Biden said, adding that as a “father and grandfather,” he understands how difficult the shortage has been for parents and their children.
Biden hosted a roundtable with leading manufacturers ByHeart, Bubs Australia, Reckitt, Perrigo Co., and Gerber. The big absentee from the list is Abbott Nutrition, whose Michigan plant was closed in February for safety reasons, causing a shortage of product in the country.
Biden was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and surgeon Vivek Murthy.
The meeting was an opportunity to provide an update on the US government’s ongoing operation to import powdered milk and use the Korean War-era production law to require suppliers to prioritize their orders in an attempt to alleviate production failures.
3.7 million bottles of powdered milk
The White House announced that the latest round of shipments would take the Kendamil formula from London’s Heathrow airport to US airports for a three-week period starting June 9. The flights will carry around 3.7 million bottles, shipped free of charge by United Airlines.
Bubs Australia will ship the equivalent of 4.6 million bottles of its infant formula on commercial aircraft contracted by the Department from Melbourne, Australia, to Pennsylvania and California on June 9 and 11, respectively.
Biden said that without those efforts, “it would have taken three weeks to get this product to the United States.”
The boost to imports will help but not immediately end the supply shortage that has left families who rely on the product to face empty shelves or limits on purchases.
Two deaths and several hospitalizations
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began focusing on the Abbott factory when it was tracking various bacterial infections in babies who consumed the powdered milk produced at the facility. The four cases occurred between September and January, causing hospitalizations and two deaths.
After detecting positive samples of rare but dangerous bacteria in several parts of the factory, the FDA closed the facility.
“The last thing we should do is allow unsafe formulas to be sold to parents,” Biden said.
US regulators and Abbott announced a deal last month that would help pave the way for the factory’s reopening, although production has not restarted.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on why Abbott was not included in today’s meeting.
Source: With Agencies