The FDA will soon announce plans to increase imports of infant formula from overseas as parents and babies in the United States are struggling with a formula shortage that has been triggered in part by the closure of the Abbott facility in Michigan.
But President Biden will not invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production at this time, senior administration officials told reporters on Thursday. U.S. infant formula production now exceeds production.But those senior officials could not say when the shelves would be fully refilled.
“We know that Americans have to constantly look at the products on display,” said an official. “There is no specific schedule, but we are working closely with partners in the federal government.”
The Biden administration is also encouraging the state to crack down on price spikes and encourage low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to use these benefits for a wider variety of infant formula.
The FDA said the FDA is “committed to making sure that the right product is available where and when it is needed.”
“This 24-hour operation has already begun improving supplies with most manufacturers,” an FDA spokesperson told CBS News. “FDA expects the actions and actions it is taking with infant formula manufacturers to help increase supply. At the same time, it is important that FDA continue to work to ensure Abbott can safely resume production of infant formula at Abbott. Nutrition’s Sturgis , the Michigan facility is intended to further mitigate these supply issues, which remain an important focus.”
Most of the milk powder, about 98% of what is consumed, is produced domestically. The FDA has stringent requirements for vitamin content, formula packaging and labeling, which raises high barriers to formula imports. And the U.S. also imposes a 17.5% duty on milk powder imports.
Some lawmakers, such as Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, questioned why the Biden administration didn’t do more to get the Abbott facility back up and running.
“Has Biden explored using the Defense Production Act to reopen an official factory that the FDA has shut down, or will he just stand still?” Hawley tweeted on Thursday..
Senior administration officials who questioned DPA said they would “continue to explore every option on the table.” The president met with leaders of companies that make infant formula on Thursday, and the producers have delivered what they need from the administration, senior administration officials said. Officials did not elaborate on the exchange at the meeting.
They also countered criticism from some Republicans that the Biden administration was doing too little, too late.
“I can assure you that this is nothing new on the White House’s radar,” an official said in a phone call with reporters. “We have been working to address this issue since the recall began, and have been working since then. We have been working closely with the USDA and FDA since mid-February…”