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WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden on Thursday announced several actions his administration is taking to help alleviate an alarming shortage of infant formula that has left desperate parents searching for food across the country.
The shortage has built for months, first from the supply chain headaches that have wreaked havoc with the broader economy. But the crisis grew after a February recall of formula by Abbott, the nation’s largest manufacturer of formula. The recall, which came after two infants died after eating tainted formula, also shut down a key factory in Sturgis, Michigan.
On Thursday, Biden spoke with retailers and manufacturers including Walmart, Target, Reckitt and Gerber about the situation. Afterward, the White House announced it would ask state governments to provide more flexibility to the WIC program, which provides formula for poor families; would move to import more baby formula; and would ask the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to crack down on any price gouging surrounding formula.
Republicans have complained that the Food and Drug Administration shuttered the facility without evaluating how a shutdown would affect the formula supply, and they have called the Biden administration too slow in responding to the formula crisis.
The Abbott shutdown occurred in response to a potentially serious health threat: Four babies got sick from Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria infections last fall after drinking formula from the plant, and two of them died. The FDA warned parents not to use certain formulas in February and Abbott recalled the affected products.
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