President Joe Biden is attempting to ease the nation’s growing concerns over the baby formula shortage.
“This is a process. We’re working on it very, very hard,” POTUS told reporters at the White House on Friday. “There’s nothing more urgent we’re working on than that right now. And I think we’re going to be making some significant progress very shortly.”
Experts say the baby formula crisis is a result of the ongoing supply-chain issues caused by the global pandemic. The shortage was exacerbated back in February when Abbott Nutrition—the country’s biggest baby formula manufacturer—announced a product recall due to contamination concerns. The company, which produces about 40 percent of the U.S.’s formula stock, subsequently closed its Michigan facility.
Since then, the demand for baby formula has sky-rocketed, making it increasingly difficult for parents to procure the products. Many grocery stores’ supply have remained depleted over the last several weeks, while breast milk banks are trying to bridge the supply gap.
While speaking to reporters Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed the Biden administration had been working to address the issue over the last several months—working with retailers and manufacturers to determine how they can replenish the nation’s baby formula supply.
The proposed ideas include simplifying the manufacturer’s product offerings by reducing the variety of sizes and packaging for one brand of formula. This will allow companies to produce the goods at a faster pace, which will shorten the time it takes to restock shelves. The White House also plans to expand the range of formulas that can be purchased through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce its plans to important foreign-made baby formula sometime next week.
Furthermore, the House Oversight Committee recently sent letters to formula manufacturers—including Abbott, Nestle USA, and the Perrigo Company—asking them to layout the steps they’ve taken to alleviate the crises and how they intend to prevent price gouging.
The Biden administration has face bipartisan criticism over the speed at which they has addressed the shortage. On Friday, a reporter asked Biden whether he was satisfied with his team’s response, pointing out that many of the aforementioned actions could’ve been taken months ago.
“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have,” the president said. “But we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us. And we have to move with caution as well as speed, because we’ve gotta make sure what we’re getting is in fact first-rate product.”