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U.S. eyes baby formula imports amid nationwide shortage.


Date: 17-05-2022
Subject: U.S. eyes baby formula imports amid nationwide shortage
U.S. health regulators will announce action on baby formula imports as soon as Monday to address a nationwide shortage that has left parents scrambling to feed their babies, the Food and Drug Administration's chief said.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf provided no details, but President Joe Biden said last week he was working to allow more formula to come in from other countries.
Empty or low-stock shelves stem partly from a February recall of baby powder formula and plant closure by one of the nation's main manufacturers, Abbott Laboratories, after four babies who had been fed formula made there became ill from Cronobacter sakazakii infections.

Abbott took a step to reopen the plant on Monday, saying it had agreed with the FDA on the steps needed to resume production there. The company said it would restart the plant within two weeks after the FDA confirms it has met the requirements.

The shortage of Abbott formula has been compounded by supply-chain snags and historic inflation, leaving about 40% of baby formula products out of stock nationwide, data shows.

Califf told NBC News he does not expect the shortage of the critical baby product to last until the end of year, adding on CNN that he expects the situation to gradually improve.

The White House separately said it was continuing talks with the major formula manufacturers to identify logistical hurdles and provide any transportation support that could help them and major retailers get formula to where it is needed.

"This is principally an issue of production more than goods movement," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters at a White House briefing.

Abbott said in a statement on Monday that after investigations by the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Abbott, there is no conclusive evidence to link Abbott's formulas to these infant illnesses.

"We have been working to address the FDA's observations so we can restart operations," the company said in a statement on Monday.

Abbott has shipped to the United States millions of cans of formula from its FDA-approved Ireland facility.

As far as efforts to bring in baby formula from other countries that the FDA deems safe for import, Califf said: "I expect by the end of the day today that we're likely to have an announcement about that path forward."

Representatives for the health agency did not respond to a request seeking more details on the plan.

White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told reporters he expected the FDA to issue import guidance as soon as Monday.
A White House official earlier said the government has offered transportation and logistics support to Abbott as well as Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, Nestle NSE 0.66 % SA and Perrigo Co Plc, in addition to top retailers such as Target Corp, Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc .

Congress this week also plans to address infant formula rules regarding the Women, Infants and Children program, a federal assistance nutrition program administered by U.S. states, as well as emergency funding to shore up supplies.

Source Name :EconomicTtimes



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