The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make an announcement on infant formula imports amid a nationwide shortage that has sent parents scrambling to keep their babies fed, the federal agency said Friday.
“FDA is working closely w/ our federal government partners to safely bring as much infant formula to US shelves as quickly as possible. This is a top priority for FDA. Our team will continue working around the clock to resolve the current supply challenges as quickly as possible,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf tweeted Friday afternoon.
The commissioner went on to say the FDAY is expected to announce next week plans outlining how manufacturers and suppliers abroad may import their products into the U.S., along with additional flexibilities for domestic manufacturers and suppliers
This will include a streamlined process to meet the urgent need for formula, according to Califf. The FDA said it will work with these manufacturers and suppliers to ensure the products still meet certain safety, quality and labeling standards.
Califf said the FDA is also continuing to work with manufacturers that currently produce infant formula for the U.S. market “like Mead Johnson/Reckitt, Nestle/Gerber, Nutricia/Danone and Perrigo” to increase production, including specialty metabolic products.
“We believe these and other ongoing efforts will help dramatically improve the supply in the U.S. in a matter of weeks. Our data indicates that in stock rates in retail stores are stabilizing but we continue to work around the clock to further increase availability,” Califf’s string of tweets concluded.
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On Thursday, President Joe Biden stepped up his administration’s response to the shortage.
The president discussed with executives from Gerber and Reckitt how they could increase production and how his administration could help, and talked with leaders from Walmart and Target about how to restock shelves and address regional disparities in access to formula, the White House said.
The administration plans to monitor possible price gouging and work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands on imports, even though 98% of baby formula is domestically made.
The problem is the result of supply chain disruptions and a safety recall, and has had a cascade of effects: Retailers are limiting what customers can buy, and doctors and health workers are urging parents to contact food banks or physicians’ offices, in addition to warning against watering down formula to stretch supplies or using online DIY recipes.
On Tuesday, the FDA said it was working with U.S. manufacturers to increase their output and streamline paperwork to allow more imports.
“We recognize that this is certainly a challenge for people across the country, something the president is very focused on and we’re going to do everything we can to cut red tape and take steps to increase supply,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
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