WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden took
steps on Wednesday to address the shortage of infant formula in
the United States, invoking the Defense Production Act to help
manufacturers obtain the ingredients needed to ramp up supply,
the White House said.
Biden also directed U.S. agencies to use Defense Department
commercial aircraft to bring formula into the United States from
Baby formula aisles at U.S. supermarkets have been decimated
since top U.S. manufacturer Abbott Laboratories in
February recalled formulas after complaints of bacterial
On Monday, Abbott said it had reached an agreement with the
U.S. health regulator to resume production of baby formula at
its Michigan plant, a major step toward resolving the nationwide
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier
Becerra and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Biden noted that
the industry should be producing more formula in the coming
weeks and months.
"Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this
ramped-up production. Therefore I am requesting you take all
appropriate measures available to get additional safe formula
into the country immediately," he said.
The White House said Biden was invoking the Defense
Production Act to ensure manufacturers have the ingredients to
make safe formula.
"The president is requiring suppliers to direct needed
resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other
customer who may have ordered that good," the White House said.
In addition, he launched "Operation Fly Formula" to hasten
imports of infant formula and get more formula to stores
Biden has directed HHS and USDA to use military commercial
aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S.
health and safety standards.
"Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the
importation and distribution of formula and serve as an
immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up
production," the White House said.
(Reporting by Eric Beech and Steve Holland; Editing by Tim
Ahmann and David Gregorio)