The Food and Drug Administration announced efforts it is taking to boost the production of baby formula in the United States and distribute it to regions that need it most in response to a dire shortage.
The agency said it is meeting regularly with formula manufacturers about ways to increase the production of various types of infant formulas and medical foods, provide foreign formula importers a streamlined entry review process for certain products, and track trends for in-stock trends across the U.S. in order to better determine what parts of the country is in most dire need. The FDA is also expediting the review process for companies making manufacturing changes that are meant to speed up production.
HERE'S WHAT'S CAUSING THE BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE
“We recognize that many consumers have been unable to access infant formula and critical medical foods they are accustomed to using and are frustrated by their inability to do so,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said. “We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said this week that the FDA is “working around the clock” to address the shortage.
The scarcity has sent parents into a panic, forcing many to spend hours looking for supplies on empty shelves and finding other parents on social media with extra formula to sell or donate.
The shortage was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which imposed supply chain tangles such as worker absenteeism and difficulty sourcing raw materials to manufacture the products. The shortage is especially acute for parents of babies who require specialty formulas to address allergies as well as gastrointestinal or metabolic conditions.
A recall of some Abbott Nutrition baby formulas earlier this year brought a halt to production at a facility in Michigan, further straining the available supply in the U.S. The recall was a result of infections caused by Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria in four babies from September 2021 to January 2022. While the facility in Michigan has been temporarily closed, the FDA is allowing Abbott to distribute formula that was on hold in the facility to families in urgent need of life-sustaining supplies.
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“Ensuring the availability of safe, sole-source nutrition products like infant formula is of the utmost importance to the FDA,” Califf said. “Our teams have been working tirelessly to address and alleviate supply issues and will continue doing everything within our authority to ensure the production of safe infant formula products.”