'Operation Fly Formula': Joe Biden invokes wartime act to address infant formula shortage
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up the production of infant formula in the wake of growing safety concerns over quality of infant foods following death of two babies and subsequent shortage caused by supply chain bottlenecks.
"Today, President Biden is announcing additional actions to get more formula into the United States and onto store shelves by invoking the Defense Production Act. To ensure that manufacturers have the necessary ingredients to make safe, healthy infant formula here at home, President Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA)," the White House said in a press statement.
This emergency action was invoked after a major plant baby formula maker Abbott nutrition came under the scanner this year after the regulatory authorities began probing four bacterial infections among infants who consumed powdered formula from the plant.
The act, which was last invoked during Covid, requires suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfil orders from those companies before other customers, to eliminate production dips.
Through this wartime act, Biden has authorized flights to import supplies from overseas, using Operation Fly Formula.
After the death of two babies, the company was forced to halt production in February and recalled several brands of powdered formula, squeezing supplies that had already been tightened by supply chain disruptions during COVID-19.
"The President is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good. Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains," the statement added.
After the death of two babies, Abbot was forced to halt production in February and recalled several brands of powdered formula, squeezing supplies that had already been tightened by supply chain disruptions during COVID-19.
Earlier this week, FDA and Abbott agreed on the next steps to reopen Abbott's facility in Sturgis, Michigan, which was closed due to concerns about bacterial contamination after four infants fell ill.
FDA also announced guidance that will allow major formula manufacturers to safely import formula that is not currently being produced for the US market.
The Biden administration also said it remains in close touch with manufacturers and retailers to identify transportation and logistical needs to increase the amount and speed of FDA approved formula being shipped into the country.