HealthDay News — At least some American parents and caregivers needing formula for their infants will be able to find it on store shelves as soon as this weekend.
About 60 tons of formula arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as part of the Biden Administration Operation Fly Formula, CNN reported. The shipment contains hypoallergenic Nestle Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula, which will head to a Nestle distribution center in Pennsylvania and then immediately be sent to hospitals, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) families, and retailers nationwide. This is the second arrival of formula from overseas companies. More is expected in the coming days, according to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Abbott Nutrition leadership apologized on Wednesday for the company’s role in a nationwide shortage of infant formula. “On behalf of everyone at Abbott, I want to express our extraordinary disappointment about the shortage. We are deeply, deeply sorry,” Chris Calamari, who leads the Abbott nutrition division, said at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.
The company is expected to begin making batches of formula at its Sturgis, Michigan, plant on June 4 and have them on store shelves around June 20. The plant can increase capacity by 40 percent after it is in operation, Calamari said. Calamari also detailed the company’s supply-boosting plans, which include shipping formula on nearly 50 flights a week to 12 airports across the country. The company has converted manufacturing facilities to make formula. It is also working with U.S. Department of Agriculture WIC agencies to provide formula for free to program participants, CNN reported. “By the end of June, we expect we will be supplying more formula to Americans than we were in January, before the recall,” he told lawmakers.
America’s other large formula maker is also helping to alleviate the shortage by increasing production. According to company Senior Vice President Robert Cleveland, Mead Johnson Nutrition (a subsidiary of Reckitt) has increased its supply by more than 30 percent compared with this time last year.
Gerber Vice President of Technical Production Scott Fitz testified at Wednesday’s hearing that his company is also “working tirelessly to help parents and caregivers get the formula that they need,” CNN reported. “Our factories run 24/7 to produce formula as efficiently as possible while maintaining our high safety standards. We are prioritizing the manufacture of products that are most in-demand as well as specialty formulas that have been in critically short supply,” Fitz said.