Biden invokes the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of infant formula

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden took action on Wednesday to address a shortage of infant formula in the United States, invoking the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers source ingredients needed to increase supply, he said. the White House.

Biden also directed US agencies to use Defense Department commercial aircraft to bring formula into the United States from abroad.

Baby formula aisles in US supermarkets have been decimated since major US manufacturer Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) recalled formulas in February after complaints of bacterial infections.

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On Monday, Abbott said it had reached an agreement with the US health regulator to resume production of baby formula at its Michigan plant, an important step toward solving a nationwide shortage.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Biden said the industry should produce more formula in the coming weeks and months.

“Imports of infant formula will serve as a bridge for this accelerated production. Therefore, I request that you take all appropriate measures available to obtain additional safe formula in the country immediately,” he said.

The White House said Biden was invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure manufacturers have the ingredients to make a safe formula.

“The president requires suppliers to direct the necessary resources to manufacturers of infant formula before any other customers who have ordered that product,” the White House said.

In addition, it launched “Operation Fly Formula” to speed up infant formula imports and get more formula into stores quickly.

Biden has directed HHS and USDA to use military commercial aircraft to pick up infant formula abroad that meets US health and safety standards.

“Bypassing regular airfreight routes will speed the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate backstop as manufacturers continue to increase production,” the White House said.

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Reporting by Eric Beech and Steve Holland; Edited by Tim Ahmann and David Gregorio

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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