Healthcare

3.7 million bottles of baby formula headed to US in Operation Fly Formula

Olivia Godden prepares a bottle of baby formula
Associated Press/Eric Gay
Olivia Godden prepares a bottle of baby formula for her infant son May 13, 2022, at her home in San Antonio.

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it had arranged two additional shipments of infant formula to come to the U.S. from overseas as part of its Operation Fly Formula.

According to the White House, United Airlines will transport the equivalent of 3.7 million 8-ounce bottles of Kendamil formula free of charge from Heathrow Airport in London to multiple airports across the country over a three-week period beginning June 9.

The formula will be distributed and available for purchase at select retailers nationwide as well as online. The first shipment will be available at Target stores across the country “in the coming weeks,” the White House said.

The administration also announced the Australian company Bubs will ship approximately 4.6 million 8-ounce bottles of formula to Pennsylvania and California on June 9 and 11, respectively. 

Last week, the White House said Bubs will be sending enough powdered formula to produce 27.5 million 8-ounce bottles of several varieties of its infant formulas, including “easy to digest” goat’s milk and specialty formulas.

The administration has been scrambling to respond to the shortage, which has frustrated parents across the country and seemed to catch officials by surprise. 

The delivery announcements come ahead of a White House roundtable meeting on Wednesday with several of the largest infant formula manufacturers, including three of the four biggest in the U.S. 

Notably absent from the list of participants is Abbott Nutrition. The formula shortage was exacerbated by the closure of an Abbott factory in Sturgis, Mich., back in February due to safety concerns.

During a congressional hearing last week, an Abbott executive said the company is ready to reopen the plant this week, but Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf indicated reopening may still be weeks away, and the shortage likely won’t be fully resolved until late July.

Four infants have been hospitalized after consuming formula that was manufactured at the Michigan plant, and two died after being infected with a strain of bacteria that can be deadly for infants. 

Still, the agency has been unable to conclusively link the bacteria found in Abbott’s plant to the strains found in the sick babies. 

The FDA has come under fire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for its failure to act swiftly, despite knowing about sick children and the plant’s issues for months.

Tags Baby formula shortage Biden Joe Biden Operation Fly Formula United Airlines

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