First baby formula shipment arrives in U.S. from Europe
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[May 23, 2022] By
Ahmed Aboulenein and Chris Gallagher
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A military cargo
plane carrying the first shipment of infant formula from Europe to help
address a critical shortage in the United States landed in Indianapolis
on Sunday, and the White House said a second flight had been arranged.
A Feb. 17 recall by top baby formula maker Abbott Laboratories and the
closing of its manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan during an
investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has created one
of the biggest infant formula shortages in recent history for U.S.
"This is an important step, but it is by no means the only step that
must take place. We will continue to work as the president has
instructed us to look for every opportunity to increase supply," said
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who greeted the plane on its arrival.
"This particular formula is for a very, very small percentage of
children. Roughly 17,000 children in the country basically are the
beneficiaries of this particular formula," he said.
President Joe Biden's administration is seeking to stock empty shelves
with 1.5 million containers of Nestle specialty infant formulas. Biden
last week invoked the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to help
The White House said on Sunday a second flight carrying formula would
leave from Ramstein Air Base in Germany in coming days. The White House
said that Abbott and a second baby formula maker, Reckitt, were the
first companies given priority status for raw supplies under the Defense
Nestle also said more shipments would arrive in the coming days.
Troops used forklifts to unload boxes of the cargo
from the plane in Indianapolis and onto trucks heading to distribution
centers. The White House said 78,000 pounds (35,000 kg) of specialty
infant formula - enough for 500,000 bottles - had arrived on the flight.
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Pallets of infant formula being shipped from Europe to the United
States during Operation Fly Formula are seen in a transport aircraft
at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in a photograph released May 22,
2022. The White House/Handout via REUTERS
Abbott, the biggest U.S. supplier of powder infant formula, closed
its Michigan plant following reports of bacterial infections in four
infants, worsening a shortage among multiple manufacturers that
began with supply-chain issues tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott Chief Executive Robert Ford apologized for the shortage on
Sunday and promised to fix it, adding the plant would reopen in the
first week of June, and it would take six to eight weeks for
products to reach store shelves.
"We're sorry to every family we've let down since our voluntary
recall exacerbated our nationís baby formula shortage," he wrote in
a Washington Post column.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday declared a state of
emergency to prevent price gouging of baby formula.
"This emergency executive order will help us to crack down on any
retailer looking to capitalize on this crisis by jacking up prices
on this essential good," Adams said in a statement.
(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and Chris Gallagher, additional
reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in Davos, Switzerland, Barbara
Goldberg in New York and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by
Ross Colvin, Bill Berkrot, Chris Reese and Paul Simao)
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