White House and FDA Pledge Action on U.S. Infant Formula Shortage

Supply chain issues and recalls have made it hard for families who use infant formula to obtain the products in stores.

UPDATE - Thursday, May 12:

Today, President Joe Biden spoke to senior leadership of Reckitt and Gerber, who manufacture infant formula and Walmart and Target as retailers. The president wanted an update on the actions these companies are taking to address the shortage of infant formula that has besieged the nation over the past few weeks.

The president also issued a letter to the head of the Federal Trade Commission about using all of the tools available to monitor the infant formula situation that has beguiled the nation over the past few weeks  contributing to scarcity and hoarding. 

In the letter, the President states, "It is unacceptable for families to lose time and spend hundreds of dollars more because of price gougers’ actions.  I therefore ask that the Commission further examine whether there is price gouging in infant formula occurring, thoroughly investigate complaints brought to you through channels such as your fraud hotline, and that you bring all of the Commission’s tools to bear if you uncover any wrongdoing.  We know State attorneys general are also examining this issue and may be valuable partners in this effort."

American parents with infants have been dealing with a national infant formula shortage that has hit households at the same time as inflation and record gas prices. In addition to supply chain issues that have left some families scrambling to feed their littlest members, some infant formulas have been taken off the shelves due to safety issues. According to the Washington Post, this formula shortage not only impacts the health of infants, but also that of older children and adults who suffer severe food allergies. The FDA has now stepped in.

The FDA is spearheading a federal effort to increase the nation's supply of formula. Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf said in a statement, "Ensuring the availability of safe, sole-source nutrition products like infant formula is of the utmost importance to the FDA."

In Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas, and Tennessee, CNN reports, more than 50% of baby formula products were out of stock in the last week of April.

The FDA advises caregivers against making their own formula at home. Instead, the agency suggests people work with their child’s health care provider for recommendations on changing feeding practices, if it’s needed.

White House spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre said it is a top priority of the White House to ensure that baby formula is available amid the shortage.

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee announced it will convene a panel to meet on the issue on May 25.

New Jersey Democrat, Frank Pallone, wrote in a statement that the hearing will focus on the causes of the formula shortage, how to increase production, and what actions will be taken "to ensure access to safe formula across the nation."

"Our teams have been working tirelessly to address and alleviate supply issues and will continue doing everything within our authority to ensure the production of safe infant formula products."

The FDA pledges to the American people that it will continue to dedicate all available resources to ensure that infant formula products remain available, and that it will keep the public informed of progress updates.

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