The lack of a formula – the result of a perfect storm of supply chain problems and mass recalls – is making parents increasingly desperate and has become a political headache for President Joe Biden as the midterm elections approach.

In this photo file, taken on May 16, 2022, the sign stands next to a small mix of nutritious baby drinks in Target in Stevensville, Maryland, as shortages of infant formula across the country continue due to supply chain disruptions linked to the coronavirus pandemic , which is already strained by the country’s formula, a problem that has been exacerbated by the withdrawal of a major product in February. Photo: Jim Watson / AFP

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government will fly infant formulas on commercial aircraft hired by the military as part of air travel aimed at easing the country’s serious deficit, the White House said Wednesday.

The lack of a formula – the result of a perfect storm of supply chain problems and mass recalls – is making parents increasingly desperate and has become a political headache for President Joe Biden as the midterm elections approach.

The Department of Defense “will use its contracts with commercial airlines, as well as to transport materials in the first months of the COVID pandemic, to transport products from production facilities abroad that meet the safety standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” White said. house.

“Bypassing scheduled air routes will accelerate the import and distribution of the formula and provide immediate support if manufacturers continue to increase production,” the statement said, calling the operation “Operation Fly Formula”.

Biden also referred to the Defense Manufacturing Act to give baby formula manufacturers first priority in supplies.

“Focusing firms on prioritizing and allocating production of basic baby formula will help increase production and speed up supply chains,” the White House said.

Originally caused by supply chain blockages and labor shortages due to the pandemic, the shortage worsened in February when, after the deaths of two infants, manufacturer Abbott announced a “voluntary recall” of a mixture manufactured at its Michigan plant and closed. down this place.

A follow-up investigation clarified the formula, and on Monday the FDA reached an agreement with Abott to resume production. But it will take weeks for the critical product to return to store.

TRANSITION

Biden wrote in a letter to the heads of the departments of agriculture, health and social services that the import of the formula “will serve as a bridge to this increase in production.”

“I ask you to work quickly to find all ways to accelerate the import of safe infant formula to the United States and on store shelves,” the president wrote.

The shortage has driven many parents into a frenzy and fear that their children may starve. The formula is a necessity for many families, especially low-income families, in which mothers have to return to work almost immediately after childbirth and are unable to breastfeed.

Another problem is that prices for the remaining formula have skyrocketed.

Parents’ despair is highlighted on social media, where publications hundreds of thousands of times urge people to prepare the mixture at home – a step pediatricians warn.

“It will not meet your child’s basic nutritional needs, can be very dangerous for his growth and development and may even get sick,” Tanya Altman, author of several books on parenting and founder of Calabasas Pediatrics in California, told AFP.

The lack of a formula also has political implications: the Republican opposition – which aimed to regain control of Congress in the midterm elections in November – has taken to the issue to scold Biden and Democrats.

The United States relies on domestic producers for 98% of the infant formula consumed. The average out-of-stock key rate hit 43% earlier this month, according to Datasembly, which gathered information from more than 11,000 retailers.

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