FDA seeks ways to get baby formula on store shelves amid nationwide crisis
The shortage of baby formula is causing stress for parents across the United States.
Members of Congress have launched an investigation into the four major brands of formula because this crisis seemingly came out of nowhere. The shortage has become so severe that some are wondering if the U.S. should have a stockpile of infant formula on reserve.
Many stores are now limiting how much formula parents can buy at one time to fend off any hoarding.
Officials say that there are several factors leading to the shortage, including supply chain issues from the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and the temporary closure of the Abbot Nutrition plant in Michigan. This is the company responsible for three very popular formulas - Similac, Alimentum and Elecare.
"With that one big plant being shut down and not producing baby formula, we are producing way less formula than babies are consuming,” says Rudolf Leuschner, with Rutgers University Business School.
Leuschner says that Abbott is looking to import formula to help with the shortage.
"Abbott has announced they are trying to bring in products from their Ireland plant, which is FDA-approved,” he says.
Officials say the key is more production, which is what the Biden administration is asking for. Two companies have responded. Gerber is increasing production by 50%. Ricketts is pumping up production by 30%.
“The key here is to produce more formula, but also to make formula available and easier for consumers to buy,” says Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council.
States are being asked to be more flexible when it comes to families who use the WIC program. The White House wants these families to be able to use other brands they might not be signed up for, brands that might actually be available on shelves.
The Food & Drug Administration is looking at another way to get more formula on shelves. They plan to allow for more imports of formula from other nations.