PLEASANTON (CBS) — After the nationwide baby formula shortage began dominating news headlines — and after some Republicans began publicly demanding more action from the Biden administration — White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday the administration has been working on the formula issue for “months.”
The run on baby formula follows the closure of a single Abbott facility in Michigan where much of the country’s formula is made. Abbott is the nation’s largest manufacturer of formula and, at this point, 40% of the nation’s formula is out of stock.
Senior administration officials told reporters on a call Thursday that its months-long attention to the shortages is the reason baby formula production in the last four weeks has at least matched production in the four weeks prior to the closure of the Abbott plant.
But critics are questioning why shortages have become so severe and why the government is only taking certain actions now, if the administration had already been aggressively tackling the issue.
Invoking the Defense Production Act to try to increase formula production has not been ruled out by President Biden and the administration is also expanding the array of formula products that may be purchased with WIC benefits. The FDA will announce expansions to the importation of foreign-made formula next week.
Mr. Biden, asked by a reporter Friday if his administration should have taken these steps earlier, responded, “If we’d been better mind-readers, I guess we could have. 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.”
“I’m very concerned. very concerned. I’m so scared she is not going to get her supply I don’t know how much longer she will need her special formula,” the mother of a nine-month-old girl who was born prematurely told KPIX. She said she has been driving from store to store just right to find her babies special type of formula.
At a grocery store in Pleasanton one can of liquid baby formula is $23.99. If you want to get the powder it is under lock and key. You will have to get someone to get it for you and the shelf is mostly bare.