May 20, 2022 For Immediate Release | Contact: Georgeanna Sullivan (202) 225-2956
BLAINE’S BULLETIN: THE NATIONAL BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE
Last week, almost 43% of America’s baby formula supply was out of stock in grocery stores across our country leaving millions of families scrambling to figure out how to feed their babies. According to the CDC, nearly 20% of infants born in this country are supplemented with formula in their first two days of life. By the age of six months, only 25% of babies are being fed solely by breastfeeding. This means parents of the other 75% percent are feeding their babies with formula. What used to be a simple, every day need for families in this country has now turned into a rare commodity and the rush to feed our country’s babies has become a crisis.
It’s hard to fathom this baby formula shortage is taking place in 2022. Americans are paying to go to space for fun, there are cars on the road that can drive themselves, and you can use your smartphone as a credit card, TV remote, hotel key and much more. But with all these technological advances, we can’t feed our most innocent and vulnerable population in modern day America? During the week of April 24th, our state sold out of over half our formula supply, forcing stores to start rationing it for their customers. Mothers are posting on social media looking for their baby’s brand of formula. Children whose specific dietary needs can only be met with a certain type of formula have been hospitalized because it’s unavailable. Unacceptable does not begin to cover it.
This crisis is a result of a couple of different factors. The vast majority of our nation’s formula supply is produced domestically, which generally is a good thing. However, it also means producers have experienced the same problems as other U.S. companies with supply chain delays and labor shortages caused by bad government policies that paid people to stop working. Shortages began increases in early 2021. By August of 2021 – nine months ago – 15% of formula supply was out of stock. By the end of January 2022 that number rose to 24%. The formula shortage really came to a head when Abbott Nutrition, one of our country’s largest formula producers, recalled several of their products this February. An already serious problem became a crisis.
One of the problems appears to be getting resolved. After three months of intense public pressure, earlier this week the FDA reached an agreement with Abbott to reopen their facility with new safety standards. This should allow Abbott baby formula to resume their large-scale operation and relieve some of the national pressure caused by their plant’s shutdown. However, it will take months for that product to hit shelves.
While it is unrealistic to expect the FDA to be able to predict a major recall and plant shutdown, it is not unreasonable to expect better from regulators and policy makers. As I said, before the shutdown occurred, we were already experiencing shortages. This Administration was aware of the shortage last year, but it took a catastrophe to get any actions. Even MSNBC, this Administration’s steadfast cheerleader and de facto press team, published a column this week entitled, “Biden’s response to the baby formula shortage is disappointing — and disingenuous.” Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of all is that there is one place where there is no trace of formula shortage: the southern border. Last week White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government provides baby formula to migrants who illegally cross our border because it’s the “morally right thing to do.” Perhaps the White House could apply that same morality to a situation they were aware of and ignored for more than a year.
This week, to help bring relief to American parents and these innocent babies who rely on formula to survive, I was proud to cosponsor the Formula Act of 2022. This legislation puts in place standards to allow imports of formula that meet or exceed U.S. quality standards until the shortage is under control. By doing this, we can ensure Americans have access to safe baby formula in a matter of days, not months. This is a temporary fix to a much larger problem that needs permanent solutions, but families here in Missouri and across America need to feed their babies right now.
CONTACT US: As always, for those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit my official website. For those without access to the Internet, I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit my YouTube site, Facebook page, and keep up-to-date with Twitter and Instagram.