A military plane carrying 78,000 pounds of specialty infant formula landed Sunday in Indiana as part of President Biden’s scramble to shore up a nationwide shortage.
The shipment is part of “Operation Fly Formula,” which will swiftly import formula while Mr. Biden invokes the Defense Production Act (DPA) to spur domestic production.
Parents have been scrambling to find enough supplies to feed their infants after inspectors shut down a formula plant over safety concerns earlier this year.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the shipment that arrived in Indianapolis is enough for more than half a million bottles of formula.
“This formula was manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and will be inspected on arrival like all food imports,” she told reporters on Air Force One en route to Japan with Mr. Biden. “Typically, the process to transport this product from Europe to [the] U.S. would take two weeks. Thanks to Operation Fly Formula, we cut that down to approximately three days.”
A second flight has been scheduled for later this week and will transport 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start® Extensive HA infant formula.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra late Sunday authorized the first two infant formula priority orders under the DPA.
The orders direct suppliers to prioritize infant formula makers over other customers in the supply chain who want the same goods.
Abbott Nutrition can now receive priority orders of raw materials like sugar and corn syrup for infant formula, while Reckitt, which owns Mead-Johnson, can receive priority orders of single-use products like filters that are needed in the formula-making process.
The White House has blamed the shortfall on safety missteps at an Abbott plant.
The FDA ordered Abbott, a major formula-producing company, to close its plant in Sturgis, Michigan, in February after several infants became sick with cronobacter infections. Two infants died, and the powdered formula was recalled.
Abbott has said that after completing an internal investigation at the plant, it found no conclusive evidence of a link between its formulas and the illnesses.
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