Healthcare

White House announces first government flights to deliver baby formula from Europe to US

The Biden administration on Thursday announced the first flights will take place in the coming days to deliver infant formula from Europe to the United States as part of a new government initiative to address the domestic formula shortage.

The Pentagon is working to get planes in place to fly the equivalent of 1.5 million bottles of formula from Zurich, Switzerland, to Plainfield, Ind., to be distributed to areas of need. The flights are part of “Operation Fly Formula,” an initiative launched this week as one of several steps the White House is taking to increase formula supply.

The Switzerland flight will bring three different types of formula: Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA. All three are hypoallergenic and are being prioritized because formulas that are safe for babies with allergies are in especially short supply, the White House said.

The formula shortage occurred after an Abbott Nutrition plant was shuttered back in February over reports of babies falling ill after ingesting formula from the facility. Increased attention on the shortage in recent weeks has led to even shorter supply and price gouging.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has been investigating the plant, on Monday reached an agreement with Abbott on a path forward to reopening the plant in Sturgis, Mich.  

The White House has been under immense pressure to do more to address the baby formula shortage over the past week. Officials have announced a series of actions, including new FDA guidance aimed at boosting imports of formula from abroad not typically sold in the U.S.  

Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to require suppliers to “direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good.” 

On the same day, the president launched “Operation Fly Formula” to allow Defense Department commercial aircraft to pick up baby formula from overseas that meets U.S. standards to get it quickly to American shelves. 

Tags Baby formula shortage Biden Defense Department Operation Fly Formula Pentagon

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