The Biden Administration is taking steps to help alleviate the nationwide infant formula shortage caused when the FDA shut down an Abbott plant in Michigan after recalling three brands of powdered formula back in February. As part of Operation Fly Formula, the administration plans to import 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three formula brands that are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergies. The first shipment from Germany’s Ramstein Air Base arrived in Indiana on Sunday. The load included 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior, as well as Gerber Good Start Extensive HA. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula is expected to arrive in Washington D.C. from Ramstein Air Base in the coming days. From there, it will be transported to a Nestle facility in Pennsylvania.
The White House says this effort expedited a process that should take weeks. “Typically, the process to transport this product from Europe to U.S. would take two weeks. Thanks to Operation Fly Formula, we cut that down to approximately three days,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She added that the administration focused on these brands first, because they serve “a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States.”
In addition to importing formula from overseas, the President also signed legislation to protect low income families from the impact of future shortages. The Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 allows families to use funds received from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to buy formula products outside of the designated list during a public health emergency or supply chain disruption.
If you are looking for infant formula, the Department of Health and Human Services suggests contacting you local Community Action Agency to find the closest source. The United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline can also direct families to food banks or other agencies that can provide charitable access to formula for those in need. SNAP and WIC participants should contact their local offices for assistance.
Parents should also take advantage of manufacturer hotlines to get emergency access as well as information on alternative formula options. MyGerber Baby Experts is staffed with nutrition experts and lactation consultants who can help parents identify available formulas that meet their baby’s needs. You can also ask your doctor to submit a request through Abbott’s Urgent Product Request Line for the company’s Metabolic Formulas & Similac® PM 60/40.