President Joe Biden is offering formula manufacturers and retailers transportation and logistics support to ease the nationwide shortage of baby formula. This comes as the administration works to bring the largest domestic plant back on line after it was shut down early this year due to safety issues.
The White House says it is working with all major formula producers to boost production, including reaching out to their suppliers to encourage them to prioritize production and delivery of formula ingredients.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said there is actually a sufficient amount of baby formula, although people may be having a hard time finding it.
“We believe it is possible for all families to get formula. There is enough to go around. But it’s not distributed in the right way,” Califf said, adding that the FDA is working on a plan to make formula more accessible.
“Over the weekend, one of the things that we worked on continuously was putting forth a set of rules that would enable the use of formula that was intended for other countries. Some of it even manufactured in the U.S., intended for other countries,” he said.
The Biden administration has come under intense pressure over the last week to do more to ease the shortage of formula that has forced parents of infants to go to significant lengths to feed their children.
Congress is preparing to vote this week on a pair of bills to increase supply, including one to allow the U.S. to import formula from abroad. The other would make it easier for low-income families in the WIC program to buy formula.
The shortage is due in large part to a February recall after four infants became ill from a suspected bacterial infection after drinking some of the formula.
The FDA has been criticized for not addressing the problems at the manufacturing facility sooner.
“FDA didn’t exert all the oversight that they could have of that facility. There were known problems with that facility going back many years or findings on previous inspections,” said former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. He said one of the biggest issues is a shortage of regulators.
“The entire industry in this country is overseen by nine people,” Gottlieb said.
Califf is expected to ask for more money to hire inspectors when he testifies on Capitol Hill this week.
The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.