White House Press Secretary Says There’s No Timeline for When Baby Formula Shortage Ends

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on May 22 said she didn’t have a timeline for when parents in the United States “will be able to readily” obtain baby formula.

“The president understands the struggle of moms and dads and parents and caregivers and making sure that … a child has … a healthy way of eating,” Jean-Pierre said during a press gaggle on Air Force One en route to Tokyo.

She added, “A healthy formula … safe formula … is our number one priority … which is why we have been very, very acutely aware of … the process that we’ve initiated with the flyover and also the DPA [Defense Production Act].”

President Joe Biden, who is currently in Japan after visiting South Korea, invoked the DPA on May 18 to accelerate domestic production of baby formula, in the face of a nationwide shortage.

A day later, the White House announced an operation titled Operation Fly Formula, to transport the equivalent of up to 1.5 million eight-ounce bottles of Nestle baby formula from Switzerland to Indiana, via commercial air cargo with contracts with the Pentagon.

“I don’t have a timeline for you yet,” Jean-Pierre continued. “We want to … make sure it goes very quickly, because it’s so critical. And we know … what families are going through. … but I don’t have an exact timeline. …. clearly, we want this to happen as fast as possible, as quickly as possible.”

A U.S. military cargo plane carrying 35 tons of baby formula arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sunday. The formula, made in Nestle’s plant in Zurich, Switerzland, would be enough to feed 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week.

Jean-Pierre said the shipment from Zurich would be “enough for over half a million bottles.”

“This formula was manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and will be inspected on arrival like all food imports,” she added. “We prioritize this for the first shipment because this formula type serves a critical medical purpose and is in short supply in the United States as the result of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure.”

Supply chain disruptions and a February recall by Abbott Nutrition have led to the current nationwide shortage of infant formula. According to Datasembly, the United States out-of-stock rate for baby formula was relatively stable, ranging between 2 and 8 percent, in the first half of last year. The rate stood at 43 percent for the week ending May 8.

On Sunday, Abbott Chief Executive Robert Ford apologized for the shortage and said the firm’s Sturgis plant would reopen during the first week of June.

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, responded to Jean-Pierre’s no timeline comment on Twitter, saying that Biden administration officials “were warned 7 months ago.”

“Was told a baby formula shortage was coming – he [Biden] did nothing,” McDaniel wrote in a separate post several hours later.

In November last year, there were media reports of parents struggling to find baby formula on the shelves of Walgreens, Target, and Walmart. On May 12, AFP published an interview with a woman in Washington who said she had known about the supply crunch “for almost seven months.”

On May 19, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, published a timeline that he said chronicled the failure of the Biden administration and U.S. Food and Drug Administration in “creating the infant formula crisis.” One key event on the timeline was how the nationwide out-of-stock rate for baby formula reached 11 percent in November, up from 8 percent in July.

“There were warning signs of an impending infant formula shortage as early as last fall,” Burr said according to a statement. “The Administration downplayed the shortage until it became a political liability for them.”

“When the infant formula shortage is finally resolved, the Biden Administration will attempt to take credit for solving a crisis they first, created and secondly, ignored,” Burr said.

From The Epoch Times