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US announces steps to combat shortage of baby formula — Analysis

Officials claim that more formula will be available in the next few weeks after temporary measures were taken to permit imports.

In an attempt to alleviate the pressure placed on American families by the continuing shortage of formula, the US will allow temporary imports from overseas producers of baby formula.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced that they had made the announcement. They noted that new products must comply with US nutrition and safety regulations. However, the FDA also stated that it would streamline the process to allow foreign formula manufacturers to ship to the US.

“We are hopeful this call to the global market will be answered and that international businesses will rise to the occasion to assist in bolstering the supply of products,”Robert Califf was the FDA Commissioner.

Karine Jean-Pierre (White House Press Secretary) confirmed that this was happening in a Monday press conference. She said that logistics and transportation support would also be provided for major formula producers and retailers by the administration.

“We are also in ongoing communications, as we talk about retailers here as well, with Target and Amazon and Walmart and other leading retailers for baby formula to identify parts of the country that may be at risk of critically low supply of infant formula, and have offered to work with manufacturers and retailers to bring more formula to those parts of the country, including the U.S. government transportation and logistical support,” Jean-Pierre said.

The US has been faced with a nationwide shortage of baby formula since February, after already existing supply chain issues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic were exacerbated by a major product recall by one of the country’s main formula manufacturers, Abbott Laboratories.

The FDA had been investigating the manufacturer after it received reports of four infants allegedly falling ill from Abbott’s products. The investigation reportedly found evidence of bacterial contamination at the site of Abbott’s largest production facility in Sturgis, Michigan, and subsequently ordered the plant to suspend operations pending investigation.

The US Department of Justice reported Monday that it reached an agreement with Abbott regarding safety concerns at the plant. Once its safety protocols are updated, the facility can resume production within two weeks provided it gets FDA approval.

However, neither the import of foreign formulas nor the re-launch of Abbott’s Sturgis facility are expected to have an immediate effect on the limited supplies that continue to put pressure on American families. Abbott Laboratories stated that even if Abbott is given the go-ahead by the FDA to resume domestic formula production within two weeks it could still take 8-10 weeks before the products reach shelves.

Even though baby formulas from Canada and Europe can be used in the US in large quantities, they still have to go through extensive research. Experts warn that this could cause delays for US companies trying to get into the US.

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