US to diversify infant formula industry to avoid shortages

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is seeking to help foreign baby formula makers stay in the U.S. market long-term in an effort to diversify the industry after the closure of the nation’s largest plant caused a shortage. in all the country.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, for its acronym in English) was scheduled to announce plans on Wednesday to help foreign producers who shipped supplies to the United States, under emergency approval to address the shortfall, and secure long-term authorization. deadline to market its formula in the United States.

The agency will provide a way for growers temporarily selling in the U.S. to meet existing regulatory requirements so they can stay in the market, giving consumers more choice and making supplies more resilient in the face of shortages. current and future.

The FDA will also host meetings and provide producers with a single point of contact to work through the regulatory system and make the application process more efficient.

“The need to diversify and strengthen the U.S. infant formula supply is more important than ever,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and Susan Mayne, director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. and Applied Nutrition of the agency. “The recent closure of a major infant formula plant, compounded by unforeseen natural weather events, has shown how vulnerable the supply chain has become.”

The United States has sought to increase the supply of baby formula after regulators in February closed a Michigan plant run by Abbott, the nation’s largest maker of baby formula, over safety concerns. The plant reopened June 4 after the company committed to additional sanitization and safety protocols, but closed again in mid-June after severe weather caused damage to the plant.

The company said it needs time to assess the damage and sanitize the factory again after severe thunderstorms and heavy rain hit southwestern Michigan on June 13.

In May, the FDA eased federal import regulations to allow shipping of infant formula into the US, and President Joe Biden authorized the use of the Defense Production Act, providing federal support for bringing formula from abroad. to the United States.

The White House said that by next Sunday, its efforts will have brought 43 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of infant formula to the US.

“Infant formula is an essential food product that is the only source of nutrition for many infants in the US. Companies and their manufacturing facilities must adhere to rigorous FDA standards that ensure formula is safe and nutritious. ,” Califf and Mayne said. “These standards are necessary to protect our children and will not be sacrificed for long-term supply considerations.”

The FDA’s temporary enforcement discretion policy is set to expire in November, but the administration says it will renew it if necessary to ensure domestic supply.


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