78,000 Pounds of Infant Formula Heading to U.S.

INDIANAPOLIS — Enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles is expected to arrive Sunday in Indianapolis, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre explained that the formula, weighing in at 78,000 pounds and 35,380 kgs, is being flown by military plane to transport it. President Joe Biden was flying from South Korea, Japan, on Air Force One.

This is just one of many flights that will transport infant formula from Europe this weekend, in order to alleviate the growing shortage here. Biden authorized the flights.

The arrival of the first shipment to Indianapolis is anticipated by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The Biden administration — which has struggled to address a nationwide shortage of formula, particularly hypoallergenic varieties — has dubbed the effort “Operation Fly Formula.” The crisis follows the closure of the nation’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan in February due to safety issues.

The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula was to leave Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the U.S. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were expected to arrive in the coming days. Altogether, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergy, are expected to arrive this week.

It is also a Nestle distribution centre. The formula will be offloaded into FedEx semitractor-trailers and taken to a Nestle distribution center about a mile away where the company will do a standard quality control check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctor’s offices, according to an administration official on site.

Because there were no commercial flights available, Air Force aircraft are transporting the first batch of formula.

Under “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request Department of Defense support to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster, according to the USDA.

Alfamino is only available at hospitals or home healthcare companies serving patients.

U.S. regulators are working with Abbott Nutrition to reopen the Michigan plant next week. But it could take up to two months before products can be shipped. In an attempt to alleviate the shortage of baby formula, the Food and Drug Administration has relaxed import regulations for this product.

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