Why Won’t Biden Allow Baby Formula Imports Now to Ease Crisis?

  • Parents are slamming Joe Biden as ‘beyond incompetent’ amid the formula crisis
  • Biden claims the nationwide shortage should improve in the coming weeks 
  • The FDA is working to streamline a process to get more formula on store shelves
  • The agency also plans to detail next week how manufacturers and suppliers abroad will be able to import their products into the U.S.
  • However, despite efforts to get more formula to American consumers, manufacturers predict the shortage will continue throughout the end of the year 
  • Angry parents are criticizing Biden for failing to act sooner and sending baby formula to the southern border 

Concerned parents are slamming President Joe Biden’s response to the nationwide infant formula crisis, despite his claims that it should improve dramatically in coming weeks as the government works with manufacturers to allow companies to import more of the product.

‘We’re going to be, in a matter of weeks or less, getting significantly more formula on shelves,’ Biden said on Friday after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was working to streamline a process that will get more products to consumers – while also meeting safety, quality and labeling standards.

Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the agency will announce plans next week detailing how manufacturers and suppliers abroad will be able to more easily import their products into the U.S., as well as new options for American companies.

The $4 billion U.S. baby formula market is dominated by domestic producers, with import options limited, subject to high tariffs and onerous safety rules that include labeling standards.

These longstanding rules have exacerbated the current crisis – and are central to officials’ efforts to ease the shortage.

‘We believe these and other ongoing efforts will help dramatically improve the supply in the U.S. in a matter of weeks,’ Califf wrote on Twitter. ‘Our data indicates that in-stock rates in retail stores are stabilizing but we continue to work around the clock to further increase availability.’

Menawhile, the head of one of the four companies that control upwards of 90 percent of the U.S. market for baby formula on Friday warned that he expects shortages and heightened demand for formula to last for the ‘balance of the year.’

Amid the crisis, caregivers are also criticizing the president’s remarks and alleging his administration has failed to address the problem in a timely manner.

‘This is unacceptable,’ Chris Skates, whose three-month-old grandson requires a special formula due to stomach sensitivity, told DailyMail.com. ‘FDA under Biden is beyond incompetent!’

Biden on Friday said his administration was working hard on the matter and had ‘nothing more urgent’ on its plate.

‘I’ll answer the baby formula question because all of a sudden it’s on the front page of every newspaper,’ he said. ‘This is a process we are working very, very hard. There’s nothing more urgent we’re working on that right now. And I think we’re really making some significant progress.’

The president also lashed out at critics as he defended his administration’s actions to relieve the shortage that has panicked parents worried about feeding their babies.

‘If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have,’ Biden said when asked if his administration should have acted sooner.

That remarks didn’t seem to ease parents’ worries and irked many dealing with the fallout of the shortage.

‘As the parent of a newborn, the baby formula supply issue was apparent three months ago,’ Rocky Fernandez, of Oakland, California, tweeted Sunday night. ‘A few sample canisters we were shipped for free were recalled, and when I first went to buy some it was already limited to five items per customer. Defense Production Act, IDGAF, fix it Biden.’

‘You all remember that time a FDA goon not understanding how the economy works closed down a baby formula factory and caused a supply chain malfunction and then mothers could not find formula in the stores?’ echoed another social media user. ‘And Biden was like ‘what’s going on, come on man.’ Bad times, bad times.’

Lisa Marie, a resident of Alaska, shared a photo online of an empty formula shelf in at a Target in her hometown and questioned Biden’s role in improving the situation.

‘@POTUS this is the baby formula in my town in Alaska this evening. You have an emergency on your hands,’ she tweeted on Sunday. ‘What are you doing to fix this today? Unbelievable in this country. This is happening on your watch under your administration.’

‘Never in my life I would of thought that the richest country in the world would run out of baby formula! This regime in the White House is truly EVIL!’ another Twitter user slammed.

Others criticized Biden’s Administration for allowing baby formula to be shipped to families at the southern border when American families are facing a shortage of powdered infant milk.

‘Stop giving baby formula to illegals first like Biden Admin is doing trying to get them votes,’ wrote Matthew Lauvray. ‘America comes first Joe not LAST.’

‘How bout get yr *** to the border and grab all those cans of baby formula u sent there instead, wiener,’ another Twitter user stated.

‘Suddenly, Biden, Pelosi & their left-wing follower show interest in the baby formula issue we find ourselves in? Really?’ added DeeJ Newell. ‘Do some research..illegals are getting free baby formula. Biden still sends pallets to border during this crises…not America first.’

While Americans pointed their fingers at Biden, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg blamed the worsening formula shortage on Abbott Nutrition, the largest formula supplier in America.

The formula shortage is the result of supply chain disruptions and workforce issues, however it was amplified by a safety recall of formulas made by Abbott and an ongoing shutdown of its manufacturing plant in Michigan.

‘Fundamentally, we are here because a company was not able to guarantee that its plant was safe, and that plant has shut down,’ Buttigieg said Sunday on Face the Nation.

‘Let’s be very clear. This is a capitalist country. The government does not make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make formula, and one of those companies — a company which, by the way, seems to have 40 percent market share — messed up and is unable to confirm that a plant, a major plant, is safe and free of contamination.’

He added: ‘The administration’s also been working with other companies to try to surge their production. That’s led to an increase in production, which is helping to compensate. But at the end of the day, this plant needs to come back online safely.’

Buttigieg’s commentary comes as the nationwide out-of-stock percentage of formula reached 40 percent the week beginning April 24, according to Datasembly. That’s an increase from 31 percent at the start of April.

More than half of U.S. states are seeing out-of-stock rates between 40 percent and 50 percent, according to the firm, which collects data from 11,000 locations.

Abbott’s recall affected formulas, including certain Similac products, made at a Michigan plant after complaints about bacterial infections in infants who had consumed the products.

President Joe Biden met on Thursday with executives from infant formula manufacturers and retailers, pressing them to do everything possible to get families access.

Retailers said their top ask is more flexibility on the types of formula they can sell, while consumers need more flexibility on the types they can buy, particularly through the ‘WIC’ program for low-income families, the White House said.

The nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children is a federal assistance scheme administered by U.S. states. Biden told reporters retailers like Walmart Inc were also looking for flexibility about the amounts of formula WIC users could buy.

Abbott said on Friday it has shipped millions of cans of infant formula powder into the United States from its Ireland facility, particularly to serve consumers who use the WIC program for low-income families.

In states where Abbott has the WIC contract, the company said it will pay rebates on competing products if Similac is not available through August.

About half of infant formula nationwide is purchased by participants using WIC benefits, the White House said, and rules set by individual states have a big effect on the availability and distribution of infant formula.

‘The shortage has taken an especially dangerous toll on women and children from underserved communities,’ U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The House of Representatives next week will bring up a bill to grant emergency authority to the WIC program to address supply-chain disruptions and recalls by relaxing non-safety-related regulations, she said in a statement on Friday.

Pelosi also said an emergency spending bill to address the infant formula shortage would advance in the House.

In other measures on Capitol Hill, the House Oversight Committee said it plans to investigate the four largest manufacturers of baby formula and seek answers on how to ramp up production and avoid any future shortage.

The committee said on Friday it sent letters seeking information to Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA and Perrigo.

The shortage poses a threat to families throughout the country, the letter said, ‘particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health in equities.’

Two other House committees – House Energy and Commerce and Appropriations – planned hearings on the issue.

Murray Kessler, CEO of Perrigo, addressed the FDA’s letter on Friday, while also warning the shortages nationwide could last until the end of the year.

Kessler said their factories in Ohio and Vermont are running at 115 percent capacity, to compensate for Chicago-based Abbott’s shutdown – but added that supplies would remain erratic for the remainder of 2022.

‘We have stepped up and are killing ourselves to do everything we can,’ Kessler said.

At the request of the FDA, Perrigo is focusing on four items: the store-brand versions of Similac Pro Sensitive and Pro Advance, and Enfamil Gentle Ease and Infant, Kessler said.

The company added that it is making other formulas as well.

It also has a smaller business making some national formula brands, including Bobbie.

Perrigo is working with retailers including Walmart and Target Corp so they ‘get something each week,’ Kessler said.

Retailers’ allocations are based on an average of what the retailers received prior to ‘this crisis,’ he said.

Reporting from The Daily Mail.