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How To Get Baby Formula, As First Overseas Shipment Arrives In U.S.

Newsweek logo Newsweek 5/23/2022 Khaleda Rahman
Airmen unload pallets from the cargo bay of a U.S. Air Force C-17 carrying 78,000 lbs of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula at Indianapolis Airport on May 22, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. © Jon Cherry/Getty Images Airmen unload pallets from the cargo bay of a U.S. Air Force C-17 carrying 78,000 lbs of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula at Indianapolis Airport on May 22, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

A shipment carrying enough specialty baby formula for more than half a million bottles arrived in Indiana on Sunday—the first of several deliveries looking to relieve the nationwide shortage.

Altogether, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three formulas that are hypoallergenic for children with cow's milk protein allergies are expected to arrive in the U.S.

The shipment that arrived Sunday carried 132 pallets of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula weighing 78,000 pounds, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.

The effort has been dubbed "Operation Fly Formula" by President Joe Biden's administration. It looks to combat a nationwide shortage of baby formula prompted by the closure of the country's largest domestic manufacturing plant due to safety issues earlier this year.

The administration prioritized the specialty formula because it "serves a critical medical purpose and is in short supply in the United States," Jean-Pierre said.

She added that the White House was working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure it "goes to those who need it the most."

The White House, USDA and HHS have been contacted for further comment.

The formula was offloaded and taken to a Nestle distribution center. There, a standard quality control check will be conducted before the supplies are sent to hospitals, pharmacies and doctor's offices, The Associated Press reported, quoting an administration official on-site.

The White House said another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula will be flown from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Washington D.C. in the coming days, before being transported to a Nestle facility in Pennsylvania.

"At Nestle we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to get parents and caregivers the formula they need so their children can thrive," Nestle said in a statement on Sunday.

The company said it has worked "around the clock" over the past few months to address the formula shortage and help meet the demand.


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"We have significantly increased the amount of our formulas available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as through hospitals and home health care for those most vulnerable," it added.

Alfamino is mainly available through hospitals and home health care companies. Parents and caregivers can visit alfamino.com for information about Nestle Health Science Alfamino products, while the Gerber Parent Resource Center is available 24/7for parents with queries—including help finding formulas—at 1-800-4-GERBER or via chat on gerber.com.

How to Get Baby Formula

The HHS website advises parents and caregivers struggling to find formula to locate their nearest Community Action Agency, which can provide them with formula or recommend local agencies that have formula in stock. They can also call 211, and a specialist may help them find food pantries or other charitable sources of local infant formula.

Participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are being urged to contact their local office for help.

The formula shortage stems from the closure of Abbott Nutrition's manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after four babies were hospitalized with a rare bacterial infection and two died.

The company's recall of several products compounded supply chain disruptions, leaving store shelves bare and retailers rationing supply while parents scrambled to find enough formula to feed their children.

The formula coming from overseas will provide "some incremental relief in the coming days," Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.

Americans should see "more formula in stores starting as early as this week" following various actions taken by the government, he added.

Abbott is hoping to reopen its Michigan facility as early as next week after entering into a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But it will take another six to eight weeks for formula products to reach store shelves, Abbott CEO Robert Ford wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post at the weekend, outlining several steps the company is taking to tackle the shortage.

Last week, the FDA eased some restrictions to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to ship more baby formula into the U.S. while Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to boost the production of formula.

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