Tuesday, June 28

The US will charter an air bridge to import milk for babies


Updated

Powdered milk is a necessity for many families in the US, particularly low-income families where mothers must return to work almost immediately after giving birth and are unable to breastfeed.

Nearly empty supermarket shelves.JIM WATSONAFP
  • USA Concern among Americans about shortages of formula milk leads to shortages in supermarkets

The United States set up an airlift to import powdered milk for babies into commercial aircraft chartered by the armed forces to fill the shortage of that product, the White House said Wednesday.

The shortages – the result of supply chain problems and massive product recalls – are driving parents to despair and have become a political nightmare for President Joe Biden as the legislative elections in November approach.

The Department of Defense will “use its contracts with cargo airlines, as it did to move materials during the early months of the Covid pandemic, to transport products from factories in other countries that meet the standards of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” the White House said.

“The air connection through regular routes will speed up the importation and distribution of powdered milk and will serve as immediate support while manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” and efforts are redoubled for air operations.

Biden also mentioned the defense production law to give supply priority to baby product manufacturers.

“Instructing companies to prioritize and allocate the production of this key product for babies will help increase production and speed up supply chains,” the White House added.

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Initially caused by supply blockages and labor shortages, the powdered milk deficit deepened in February, when after the death of two infants, manufacturer Abbot announced a “voluntary recall” of its infant formula manufactured at its Michigan facility.

The FDA investigation clarified the formula and reached an agreement with Abbott to resume production, but it will take weeks to get the essential product to warehouses.

filling the gap

Biden wrote to the heads of the Departments of Agriculture and Health, that the imports of the powdered formula “will serve as a bridge to the acceleration of production.”

“However, I ask that you take all appropriate measures available to count additional quantities of the formula safely in the country immediately,” the president said in his letter.

The shortage has left many parents frantic and fearful that their children will go hungry. Powdered milk is a necessity for many families, particularly low-income families where mothers must return to work almost immediately after giving birth and are unable to breastfeed.

One more problem is that product prices available they went up into the clouds.

Parents’ desperation is evident on social media where posts shared hundreds of thousands of times urge parents to make the product at home, something advised against by experts who say that this will not have the necessary nutrients for children and could make them sick.

This is already having political consequences with the Republican opposition – which has its sights set on regaining control of Congress in the November elections – taking advantage of the issue to attack Biden and the Democrats.

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USA depends 98% on its local production of powdered baby milk. The product’s average stock-out rate hit 43% at the start of this month, according to Datasembly, which collected information from more than 11,000 vendors.

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