May 10, 2022 - Health

FDA says it is "doing everything in our power" to improve baby formula supply

An empty baby formula display.
An empty baby formula display. Photo: Paul Hennessy via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday that it is "doing everything in our power" to improve the supply of baby formula.

Driving the news: The nation's baby formula shortage has intensified in recent weeks due to supply chain issues and a recent recall of Abbott Nutrition products.

What they're saying: “We recognize that many consumers have been unable to access infant formula and critical medical foods they are accustomed to using and are frustrated by their inability to do so," said FDA commissioner Robert Califf in a statement.

  • "We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it,” he said.
  • "Ensuring the availability of safe, sole-source nutrition products like infant formula is of the utmost importance to the FDA."

The shortage is "a top priority to the White House and this administration,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a briefing Wednesday.

  • "This is an urgent issue that the FDA as you all know and the White House is working 24/7 to address. They are committed to pulling every lever and are ready to making progress in getting more supply onto the market.”

Abbott Nutrition said in a statement it's been working to address issues the FDA pointed out.

  • "Some of these actions have included reviewing and updating education, training and safety procedures for both employees and visitors, as well as updating our protocols regarding water and cleaning and maintenance procedures at the facility," Abbott said.

Abbott said within two weeks, it could reopen its site in Sturgis, Michigan, where the recalled baby powder was first produced, pending FDA approval. That development "will help alleviate this shortage," the company said.

  • EleCare, Alimentum and other formulas would be produced there first, before it would start production of Similac again. Baby formula products would be available on shelves six to eight weeks after the site restarts, the company said.

The big picture: About 3-in-4 babies are fed formula for the first six months of their lives as a substitute for human milk products, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes.

  • Shortages — likely started by distribution issues and production woes — have recently plagued the United States.

What's next: Califf said the FDA "will continue doing everything within our authority to ensure the production of safe infant formula products.”

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the FDA is "working around the clock" to address the shortage, CNN reports.

Go deeper: "Terrifying" baby formula shortage worsens

Editor's note: This post was updated with additional details throughout.

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