DeLauro files legislation to address baby formula shortage
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Tuesday filed supplemental funding legislation to address the nationwide baby formula shortage.
If passed, the legislation would greenlight $28 million in emergency funds to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) address the shortage and prevents future shortages, the congresswoman’s office said.
“The stories of mothers and fathers struggling to find formula and the images of empty store shelves are heartbreaking,” De Lauro said in a statement. “Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait—they need our support now. This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner.”
“Additionally, with these funds, FDA will be able to help to prevent this issue from occurring again. While we know we have more work to do to get to the bottom of serious safety concerns at an Abbott facility and the FDA’s failure to address them with any sense of urgency, this bill is the first step to help restock shelves and end this shortage,” she said.
Additionally, DeLauro’s office said the bill also seeks to “prevent fraudulent products from being placed on shelves and to help acquire better data on the infant formula marketplace,” bolster the FDA inspection staff, and “strengthen the workforce focused on formula issues.”
The legislation comes as the House Oversight and Reform Committee has launched an investigation into the shortage. The shortage has dominated public attention in recent days, putting pressure on lawmakers to act.
As part of the effort, lawmakers sent letters to four top baby formula manufacturers, including Abbott Nutrition, asking companies for more information about their plans to address the shortage. Lawmakers say they are also seeking documents from Abbott pertaining to conditions at its Sturgis, Mich., plant that led to recalls found to have contributed to the shortages, along with supply chain issues.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck emergency situation. This legislation gets needed resources into the field to ensure that the existing baby formula supply is safe and back on supermarket shelves,” Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.), who chairs the subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, said.
“I am eager for this week’s hearing to find answers as to how this food safety failure occurred and identify ways to prevent it from happening again. In the meantime, today’s legislation is an important step forward in helping American families get safe and reliable infant formula to feed their children,” he added in a statement.