US NEWS: U.S. Panel House will investigate shortages of infant formula

WASHINGTON, May 13 – The U.S. Home Affairs Committee on Friday set out to investigate four major producers of children’s formulas and seek answers on how to increase productivity in the face of global shortages.

“Lack of children’s formula is a problem for American families,” the committee said in a Twitter post.

U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who heads the committee, has sent letters seeking information to Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA, and Perrigo, reports ABC News.

“The national formula deficit threatens the health and economic safety of infants and families in communities across the country – especially those on low incomes who have experienced health inequalities, including food insecurity,” the letter said.

The investigation, which will look at possible price increases among other issues, is the latest step in Washington to address the shortfall.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) in February recalled other children’s formulas, including certain Similac products, manufactured in a factory in Sturgis, Michigan, after complaints about viral infections in infants who ate the products.

The formula deficit is compounded by a deficit in assets and historic inflation, which has left about 40 percent of children’s formula products in stock across the country, according to data company Datasembly.

Less than half of all babies born in the United States are exclusively breastfed in their first three months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2020 presented the Breastfeeding Report Card.

US President Joe Biden met on Thursday with officials from children’s formula manufacturers and retailers, urging them to do everything possible for families to reach out.

Some manufacturers have been increasing production for weeks and officials are focusing on how to quickly find formulas on store shelves, said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Retailers told Biden “the most important step we can take right now is to give retailers more flexibility in the formulas they can sell. And consumers have more flexibility in the types they can buy, especially through the WIC program,” to low-income families, Deese told CNN.

The White House on Friday will also release a guideline that it gave to provinces for the first time after recalling in February that it had changed to make it easier for those buyers to buy formula, Deese said.

The Food and Drug Administration will announce new measures in the coming days to import certain baby formula products, the White House said Thursday, and Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate reports of misconduct such as price reductions.

Deese would not have guessed how long the shortage would last.

“All these steps will be progressive. They will not be resolved in a day or a week,” he said.

Two other parliamentary committees have announced plans to address the budget deficit.

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