A military plane carrying enough baby formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, the first of several flights expected from Europe to address shortages that have prompted parents to search for enough to feed their children.
President Joe Biden authorized the use of Air Force planes for this effort, which he called “Operation Flying Formula,” because there were no commercial flights available.
White House press secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One as Biden was on his way from South Korea to Japan that the formula weighed 78,000 pounds (35,380 kilograms).
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to welcome the arrival of the first shipment.
The flights are intended to provide “extra convenience in the days ahead” as the government works on a more sustainable response to the shortages, Brian Dees, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Sunday.
Dess told CNN’s State of the Union that Sunday’s flight brought in 15% of the specialty medical-grade formula required in the United States, and due to various government measures, people are expected to see “more than formula in stores this week.”
He said the United States needed more suppliers of fixtures in the long term “so that no company has too much control over supply chains.”
The Biden administration has struggled to address the nationwide shortage of infant formula, especially the hypoallergenic types. The crisis came on the heels of the shutdown of Michigan’s largest national manufacturing plant in February due to safety concerns.
The White House said 132 platforms of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formulations will leave Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for the United States. Another 114 panels of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula are expected to arrive in the coming days. About 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children allergic to cow’s milk protein, are expected to arrive this week.
Indianapolis was chosen because it is the distribution center for Nestlé. The formula will be unloaded into FedEx trailers and transported to a Nestlé distribution center about one mile away where the company will perform standard quality control before distributing supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and medical practices, according to an official from the on-site management. .
Nestlé said it has been working over the past few months “around the clock” to address the formula shortage and help meet demand.
“We have significantly increased the amount of formulations available to consumers by increasing production and accelerating the general availability of products at retailers and online, as well as in hospitals and home health care for the most vulnerable groups,” the company said in a statement. statment.
“At Nestlé, we are fully committed to doing everything we can to provide parents and caregivers with the formula they need so their children can thrive,” he added. “We have prioritized these products because they serve an essential medical purpose, as they are intended for children with cow’s milk protein allergy.”
Under the “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request assistance from the Department of Defense to retrieve infant formula from abroad that meets US health and safety standards, so they can store it on shelves faster, according to the USDA.
Alfaamino is primarily available through hospitals and home health care companies that serve patients at home.
US regulators and manufacturers Abbott Nutrition hope to reopen its Michigan plant next week, but it will take about two months before the product is ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration eased import requirements for infant formula this week in a bid to ease supply shortfalls, leaving store shelves empty for some brands and some retailers geared toward supplies for parents worried about feeding their babies.