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Biden invokes Defense Production Act to address formula shortage

This decision will provide ingredients to manufacturers to help speed up production.

President Joe Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act to address the widespread shortage of infant formula, the White House announced Wednesday evening.

The move will provide manufacturers with ingredients to help speed production, the administration said.

“The President is asking suppliers to direct necessary resources to infant formula manufacturers ahead of any other customers who may have ordered this product,” the White House said in a statement. “Asking companies to prioritize and allocate production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up supply chains.”

The president has also ordered Department of Defense commercial planes to pick up infant formula overseas to get it on U.S. shelves more quickly while U.S. manufacturers ramp up production, the White House said.

The current infant formula crisis has sparked a public outcry from parents and lawmakers, as well as an investigation by the House Oversight Committee.

Biden has called the formula shortage one of his “top priorities.”

“I know parents across the country are concerned about finding enough infant formula to feed their babies,” the president said in a video address announcing the administration’s latest action. “As a parent and grandparent, I know how stressful it is.”

Supply chain issues related to the coronavirus helped fuel the shortage, which was made worse by a recall from Abbott Nutrition, one of the nation’s largest infant formula makers. The company closed its manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan in February due to concerns about bacterial contamination after four infants fell ill.

Abbott maintains that there is still no conclusive evidence linking his formula to the four childhood illnesses, including two deaths.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration said it had agreed with Abbott on a plan to reopen its Sturgis plant. Abbott said it could restart operations there within two weeks and it would take six to eight weeks before the product was back on shelves.

The FDA also announced on Monday that it is easing import restrictions on infant formula made overseas. The United States normally produces 98% of the infant formula it consumes, according to the FDA.

The Biden administration has said it will focus on transporting infant formula abroad that meets FDA safety standards.

It’s unclear how soon customers will see an impact on store shelves. Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said Monday that bringing imported products to market could take weeks.

The White House said Wednesday it was working to get more formula to stores “as soon as possible.”

Anne Flaherty and Sasha Pezenik of ABC News contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

ABC News

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