A military plane carrying enough special formula for more than half a million bottles of baby formula arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, the first of several scheduled flights from Europe aimed at alleviating shortages. The shortage leaves parents scrambling to find enough to feed their children.
U.S. President Joe Biden authorized the use of air force planes for the effort dubbed “Operation Formula Flying,” as no commercial flights have been made.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One when Biden flew from South Korea to Japan.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to celebrate the first shipment.
Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said the flights were intended to provide “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works to make a more permanent response to the situation. shortages, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Sunday.
Reese told CNN’s State of the Union That Sunday flight carried 15% of the special formula that is medically necessary in the US, and due to various actions by the government, people will see “more formula in stores”. starting earlier this week.”
In the longer term, he said, the US needs more formula suppliers “so that no individual company has as much control over the supply chain.”
The Biden administration has struggled to address a nationwide shortage of formula milk, particularly of hypoallergenic varieties. The crisis comes after the country’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan closed in February due to safety issues.
The White House said 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science’s Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula will leave Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the United States. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula are expected to arrive in the coming days. In total, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, hypoallergenic for babies allergic to cow’s milk protein, are expected to reach customers this week.
Indianapolis was chosen because it is Nestlé’s distribution center. The recipe will be loaded onto FedEx trailers and taken to a Nestlé distribution center about 1.5 km away. There, the company will do standard quality checks before distributing supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices, according to an on-site management official.
Nestlé said that over the past few months, it has been working “around the clock” to address the formula shortage and help meet demand.
“We have significantly increased the amount of our formulations available to consumers by ramping up production and enhancing our overall product offering to retailers and online, as well as through the clinic. hospitals and home health care for the most vulnerable,” the company said in a press release.
“At Nestlé, we are fully committed to doing everything we can to give parents and caregivers the formula they need so their children can thrive,” it added. . “We prioritize these products because they serve an important medical purpose because they are intended for children with allergies to cow’s milk proteins.”
Under the “Operation Fly Formula”, the Departments of Agriculture and the Departments of Health and Human Services are authorized to request the Department of Defense to assist in the purchase of infant formula overseas that meets US health and safety standards. , so that milk can get to the shelves faster, according to the USDA.
Alfamino is primarily available through hospitals and home healthcare companies that serve patients at home.
US regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to reopen the Michigan plant next week, but it will take about two months before the product is ready to ship. The Food and Drug Administration this week eased import requirements for infant formula to try to ease supply shortages that have left store shelves of some brands closed. vacant and some retailers allocate supplies to parents worried about feeding their children.