78,000 pounds of infant formula arrives in the US

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INDIANAPOLIS — A military plane carrying enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, the first of a number of flights expected from Europe to remedy a shortage that left parents scrambling to find enough to feed their children. to feed.

President Joe Biden authorized the use of Air Force aircraft for the effort, dubbed “Operation Fly Formula,” because no commercial flights were available.

The formula weighed 78,000 pounds (35,380 kilograms), White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew from South Korea to Japan.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to greet the arrival of the first shipment.

The flights are intended to “provide some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works towards a more sustainable response to the deficit, Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said Sunday.

Reese told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Sunday’s flight should have 15% of the specialty medical-grade formula needed in the U.S., and because of various government actions, people should see “more formula in stores that already this week.” to start. “

In the longer term, he said, the US needs more formula providers “so that no individual company has so much control over supply chains.”

The Biden administration has struggled to address the nationwide shortage of formulas, especially hypoallergenic varieties. The crisis follows the shutdown of the nation’s largest domestic factory in Michigan in February due to safety concerns.

The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula would depart from Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the US. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were to arrive in the coming days. In total, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergies, are expected this week.

Indianapolis was chosen because it is a Nestle distribution center. The formula will be unloaded into FedEx trailers and taken to a Nestle distribution center about a mile away, where the company will perform a standard quality check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices, an official on site said. †

Nestle said it has been working “around the clock” in recent months to address the formula shortage and meet demand.

“We have significantly increased the number of our formulas available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as through hospitals and home care for the most vulnerable,” the company said in a release.

“At Nestle, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to give parents and carers the formula they need so that their children can thrive,” it added. “We have prioritized these products because they serve a critical medical purpose, just as they do for children with cow’s milk protein allergy.”

Under “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request support from the Department of Defense for overseas retrieval of infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards so it can be shipped faster. can hit store shelves, according to the USDA.

Alfamino is mainly available through hospitals and home care companies that serve patients at home.

U.S. regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to reopen the Michigan plant next week, but it will take about two months for the product to be ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration eased import requirements for baby food this week to try to alleviate inventory shortages, which have left some brands empty on store shelves and some retailers rationing supply for parents nervous about feeding their children.

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