WASHINGTON – The US government bought 1.5 million bottles of baby formula stored in Switzerland and is now looking for airlines to transport them to the United States, which is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of the product.
This will be the first mission of “Operation Fly Formula” (Operation to fly baby milk) that US President Joe Biden authorized this week. The formula that Biden has obtained is from Nestlé and the bottles that will arrive in the US are of the “Alfamino Infant”, “Alfamino Junior” and “Gerber Good Start” brands, all of them designed for babies who are allergic to milk protein cow, detailed the White House in a statement.
Priority has been given to these types of products due to the difficulty of finding alternatives for babies with allergies and the scarcity of hypoallergenic formulas in the United States.
Biden announced two measures on Wednesday to supply the market in the face of a shortage of baby milk. First, he authorized the Department of Defense to use the contracts it has with commercial airlines to import powdered milk from anywhere in the world, something it will do with the 1.5 bottles stored in Switzerland. Second, Biden invoked a law dating back to the Cold War to accelerate the production of that dairy food in the United States.
The law that Biden invoked is the so-called “Defense Production Act”, which dates back to the start of the Korean War in 1950 and allows the US president to mobilize resources from the private sector through the Pentagon to respond to certain situations.
In recent weeks, finding powdered milk for babies has been a challenge for parents in different states of the country, an issue that has become a throwing weapon between Republicans and Democrats. The shortage was caused by global supply problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and difficulties at the production plant that Abbott, the largest US infant formula maker, has in Sturgis, Michigan.
Stock problems worsened in February when Abbott recalled formula leaving its Michigan plant, which was marketed under the brand names Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, after four babies suffered a bacterial infection and two of them died. Abbott announced this week that it has reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to soon reopen its plant in Michigan.