President Joe Biden on Wednesday, May 18 invoked a wartime measure known as the Defense Production Act to tackle the problem of baby formula shortage that has been reported around the United States for months now. The White House says the act will help manufacturers obtain the ingredients needed to ramp up supplies of baby food.
The formula shortage is blamed on the strain on the supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of production by the top U.S. manufacturer Abbott Laboratories which was forced to recall formulas in February, following complaints of bacterial infection. Their absence has caused a huge gap in the market with baby formula aisles in supermarkets decimated while frenetic mothers are forced to drive long distances in search of the powder to keep their young ones nourished. Some mothers are so desperate, that they’re trying to make their own formula, with Google searches on how to make baby formula surging by 2400% in the past thirty days. Much pressure has been put on the government to find solutions to the baby formula crisis.
On Monday, Abbott Laboratories confirmed they had reached an agreement with health regulators in the US to resume production in one of their major plants in Michigan. They are hoping this will be a significant step toward resolving the nationwide shortage. The White House stressed after President Biden invoked the act that, “The president is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good.”
Another measure taken by President Biden is the launch of “Operation Fly Formula,” by which the import of approved baby formula from other countries will be brought in hastily to US stores.
“Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this ramped-up production. Therefore, I am requesting you take all appropriate measures available to get additional safe formula into the country immediately,” President Biden said.
He has directed the Pentagon to use military commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets US health and safety standards.