Back on February 17, the FDA announced the closure of Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Mich. facility which manufacturers baby formula, setting in motion the current shortage we’re experiencing today:

FDA is investigating consumer complaints of Cronobacter and Salmonella infections. All of the cases are reported to have consumed powdered infant formula produced from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI facility. Products made here can be found across the U.S.

— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) February 17, 2022

The FDA’s warning was pretty clear  back then:

“As this is a product used as the sole source of nutrition for many of our nation’s newborns and infants, the FDA is deeply concerned about these reports of bacterial infections,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. “We want to reassure the public that we’re working diligently with our partners to investigate complaints related to these products, which we recognize include infant formula produced at this facility, while we work to resolve this safety concern as quickly as possible.”

But when asked about the ongoing crisis today, President Joe Biden defended his administration’s actions by saying if they were better mind readers maybe they could’ve acted faster:

Asked by @JDiamond1 to respond to criticism that his administration should have acted sooner on baby formula shortage, Biden says maybe they could have done that if they were “mind readers.”

Says it has been important to act with “caution” on this issue.

— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) May 13, 2022

Literally. Here’s the full quote:

Biden’s full answer on this:

“If we’ve been been better mind readers I guess we could’ve but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us and we have to move w/ caution as well as speed…”

— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) May 13, 2022

“…because we have to make sure what we’re getting is in fact first rate product. That’s why the FDA has to go through the process.”

— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) May 13, 2022

You know, the problem isn’t mind reading. It’s that nobody in the administration or the FDA thought through what would happen if a major supplier of baby formula just shut down with no return date set. Especially with WIC restrictions at the state level which is making the crisis that much worse.

From RealClearPolitics’ Susan Crabtree on how the administration is *finally* addressing this issue:

.@PressSec provides update on infant formula supply problem: This afternoon Ag Sec. Vilsack sent a letter to all states urging them to adopt all possible flexibilities in the WIC program to allow more consumers to obtain greater access to formula.

— Susan Crabtree (@susancrabtree) May 13, 2022

Her son has a severe allergy to dairy. Even though he’s a year old, he needs a specific type of formula to supplement for nutrition and calories. She can’t find it anywhere nearby that accepts WIC, which they also depend on.

— Lindsey Mills (@LindseyMills7) May 13, 2022

After a desperate call to the pediatrician’s office, a nurse took matters into her own hands — helping to track down eight cans. Enough to last just short of a month.

— Lindsey Mills (@LindseyMills7) May 13, 2022

So amid the nationwide shortage of all types of formula — not only does this family depend on a very specific type — they can’t afford it without WIC.

— Lindsey Mills (@LindseyMills7) May 13, 2022

And, today, “Abbott has agreed to extend WIC rebates for all their contracted products until the end of August”:

White House says Abbott has agreed to extend WIC rebates for all their contracted products until the end of August, following a letter from @SecVilsack.

gives WIC recipients means to buy alternative brands as Abbott deals w/ getting plant back online after bacterial outbreak

— Meredith Lee (@meredithllee) May 13, 2022

But there’s still work to do:

It’s a helpful step for WIC recipients, but the problem remains that there isn’t enough supply of those alternative brands. White House says it’s been working with the few other formula manufacturers in the market to increase production.

— Meredith Lee (@meredithllee) May 13, 2022

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told members that they’ll be voting on new legislation next week “to grant emergency authority to the WIC program to address supply chain disruptions and recalls”:

BABY FORMULA NEWS: Nancy Pelosi announces House will vote next week on a “bill to grant emergency authority to the WIC program to address supply chain disruptions and recalls.”

WIC is a food voucher for moms & major purchaser of formula through state contracts w/ industry.

— Arthur Delaney 🇺🇸 (@ArthurDelaneyHP) May 13, 2022

No rush, everyone:

WIC is fussy about eligible foods & allows moms to buy only ONE brand of formula.

Yesterday the Biden admin said they would loosen that rule; not sure how next week’s bill complements that announcement

— Arthur Delaney 🇺🇸 (@ArthurDelaneyHP) May 13, 2022

And should start importing baby formula already approved in Europe:

1) Repeal all baby formula tariffs (tariff rate quotas)
2) Require the FDA to allow the importation of any formula approved by a competent regulator (EU, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, etc)
3) Reform WIC (eg, no more sole source contacts)

— Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) May 12, 2022

But instead of common-sense reform at the FDA, Dems will just blame “capitalism.” Again:

We built a tariff/regulatory wall around the US infant formula market, and then – using a government monopsony (WIC) – distorted domestic formula prices/supply, discouraged market entry, & encouraged producer concentration.

And now they’re blaming “capitalism” for the crisis.

— Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) May 13, 2022


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