President Joe Biden spoke with the leaders of two baby formula makers and two major retail chains on Thursday to ease the nationwide shortage of powdered formula, the White House said.
Manufacturers Reckitt and Gerber said they were operating 24/7, with Gerber increasing the amount of formula available to consumers by 50% in March and April, the White House said in a statement. Reckitt said it is supplying 30% more product than at this time last year.
The CEOs of Walmart and Target talked about how retailers are working to keep shelves stocked.
“The president asked what more his team can do to help move product and get more product to communities in need,” the statement said.
The FDA will soon announce that more formula will be imported from nations such as Chile, Ireland, Mexico, and the Netherlands, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed senior administration officials. The White House also told the Federal Trade Commission and state leaders to go after price gougers, the officials told the newspaper.
“The steps the president took today are an acknowledgment and a recognition that more needs to be done,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday, according to the Times. “Our message to parents is, we hear you, we want to do everything we can, and we’re going to cut every element of red tape to help address this and make it better for you, to get formula on the shelves.”
The shortage of powdered formula was caused by supply chain issues and a recall of certain Abbott Nutrition products, including major labels such as Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare.
In mid-February, the FDA warned consumers not to use some powdered formulas made by Abbott Nutrition at its factory in Sturgis, Michigan. On Thursday, the FDA said that its investigation of Abbott was closed and that the company is now allowed to release some of its formula included in the recall to families in desperate need of formula on a case-by-case basis.