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Democrats accused GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of wanting to "starve babies" after outrage over baby formula at immigration facilities amid a national shortage

Stefanik, who has been praised by Trump, has complained about giving infant formula to migrants in US custody during the shortage. Stefanik at a press conference on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2021.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images Rep. Elise Stefanik called it "unacceptable" to give baby formula to migrants during the shortage. Stefanik, a top House Republican and Trump favorite, said "Biden continues to put America LAST." Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Ruben Gallego accused her of wanting to withhold food from babies. Democratic lawmakers accused Rep. Elise Stefanik of wanting to withhold food from babies in response to her comments on infant formula at immigration detention facilities."Joe Biden continues to put America LAST by shipping pallets of baby formula to the southern border as American families face empty shelves. This is unacceptable. American mothers and their babies shouldn't suffer because of the #BidenBorderCrisis," Stefanik, the third top Republican in the House and a favorite of former President Donald Trump, said in a tweet on Friday.The New York representative's tweet came amid a wave of Republican outrage over claims that pallets of infant formula were being sent to holding facilities while the US faces a nationwide shortage driven by supply chain issues and product recalls.Some Democratic lawmakers jumped on Stefanik's comments.Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona tweeted asking her what she was proposing instead: "Do we just starve these babies? The parents are locked up they can't go shop for an alternative. So you are asking for the government to deliberately starve children?"Rep. Eric Swalwell of California also tweeted at Stefanik: "If you are in Congress and propose starving babies to death you deserve to have your name trend. #EliseStarvefanik."A representative for Stefanik did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Shortages of baby formula in the US began months ago but grew worse in April. By the end of the month, 40% of infant formula products nationwide were out of stock, and in some states, more than 50%.The White House on Thursday announced plans to address the shortage.It's unclear when or how much infant formula has been sent to immigration facilities but Republicans began raising concerns after Rep. Kat Cammack said "pallets of baby formula" had been shipped to holding facilities at the border.In a statement provided to Insider on Thursday, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection said: "CBP takes seriously its legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of individuals in our custody. Ensuring migrants, including children and infants, in our custody have their basic needs met is in line with this Administration's commitment to ensuring safe, orderly, and humane processes at our border."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 14th, 2022

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott criticized Biden after a GOP lawmaker said "pallets of baby formula" were sent to migrant holding facilities amid national shortage

The baby formula shortage has caused panic, but CBP said it has a "legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security" of those in its custody. Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store in Carmel, Ind., Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Parents across the U.S. are scrambling to find baby formula because supply disruptions and a massive safety recall have swept many leading brands off store shelves.Michael Conroy/Associated Press A national shortage of baby formula has led to empty shelves and panicked parents. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott accused the Biden administration of putting undocumented migrants before Americans. It's unclear how much formula has been sent to holding facilities. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott criticized President Joe Biden on Thursday and accused him of sending baby formula to undocumented migrants at the border as American parents nationwide face a severe shortage."Children are our most vulnerable, precious Texans and deserve to be put first," the Republican said in a joint statement with Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. "Yet, President Biden has turned a blind eye to parents across America who are facing the nightmare of a nationwide baby formula shortage.""While mothers and fathers stare at empty grocery store shelves in a panic, the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border," it continued.Shortages of baby formula in the US began months ago but got even worse in April. By the end of the month, 40% of infant formula products nationwide were out of stock, and in some states it was more than 50%. The White House on Thursday announced plans to address the shortage.A representative for Abbott did not immediately respond to Insider's questions about if he is proposing formula be withheld from migrants at holding facilities in Texas or how such supplies should be distributed."CBP takes seriously its legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of individuals in our custody. Ensuring migrants, including children and infants, in our custody have their basic needs met is in line with this Administration's commitment to ensuring safe, orderly, and humane processes at our border," a CBP spokesperson said in a statement to Insider, adding the agency "complies with all applicable regulations for the purchase of products used in CBP facilities."Abbott's statement came after Rep. Kat Cammack said in a video posted to Facebook that "pallets of baby formula" had been shipped to holding facilities at the border."Meanwhile, in our own district at home, we cannot find baby formula," the Florida Republican said.—Kat Cammack (@Kat_Cammack) May 11, 2022 Cammack also shared a photo of a shelf stocked with formula that she said was taken at the Ursula processing center in McAllen, Texas, and sent to her from a concerned border patrol agent."He has been a border patrol agent for 30 years and he has never seen anything quite like this. He is a grandfather and he is saying that his own children can't get baby formula," she said, adding that the agent told her he couldn't believe a recent formula shipment came in.Cammack said "it is not the children's fault at all" but that it is "another example of the America last agenda that the Biden administration continues to perpetuate."It's unclear when or how much infant formula has been provided to holding facilities, or how the quantity compares to the current national shortage.The White House did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 12th, 2022

Why It’s So Hard to Find Baby Formula in the U.S. Right Now

A nationwide shortage has left parents scouring social media or crossing states to get hold of baby formula. Parents across the U.S. have been scouring social media or crossing states to get hold of baby formula amid a national shortage driven by ongoing pressure on supply chains. The crisis has worsened in the past few weeks as 40% of popular baby formula brands were sold out at U.S. retailers in the week beginning April 24, according to an analysis by Datasembly of more than 11,000 stores. That’s up from 31% less than two weeks earlier, and 11% in November 2021. Datasemly found that more than half of baby formula products were completely sold out in Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas, and Tennessee during the week of April 24. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The strain on supplies has forced major retailers including Walgreens, CVS, and Target to limit the amount of the specially formulated milk customers can buy, according to USA Today. Images shared on social media show empty shelves in the formula aisles. Why is there a baby formula shortage? In the past few months a number of factors have piled pressure on national and global supply chains. These include staff shortages due to COVID-19, increased demand for many products and services following the easing of lockdown restrictions, the war in Ukraine and related international sanctions, and shortages of some commodities. Read more: How American Shoppers Broke the Supply Chain But the shortage of baby formula was exacerbated when Abbott—producer of top U.S. brand Similac—shut a major factory in Michigan and issued three product recalls in February over contamination concerns. According to the Food and Drug Administration, four babies fell sick, including two who died, after being fed formula produced in the factory. In March the FDA published preliminary findings that Abbott failed to maintain sanitary conditions in the factory. The regulator said in a statement that it is working with the company to reopen the Michigan factory. But pressure is mounting on the FDA, which was accused by Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro of responding “too slowly” to the shortages. “A nationwide formula shortage has left babies without proper nutrition and parents without options,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton tweeted. “The @us_fda must do everything in its power to reopen the Abbott plant.” Abbott is the main supplier of baby formula to low income women and children through state benefit programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The manufacturer was the exclusive supplier for more than half of the agencies administering WIC, Brian Dittmeier of the National WIC Association told the New York Times. Panic buying has added to the crisis in recent weeks. In response, retailers like Walgreens are limiting consumers to buying three cans at a time, the BBC reported. One 12.4 ounce container of formula typically produces around 15 bottles, which would only last for a few days. Walgreens said in a statement to the BBC that it was working with its suppliers “to best meet customer demands.” What are baby formula companies saying about the shortage? Abbott said in a statement that it is working with the FDA to reopen its Michigan factory, and is shipping extra formula from a plant in Ireland. The company expects shipments from the country to double this year. “We know that our recent recall caused additional stress and anxiety in an already challenging situation of a global supply shortage,” Abbott said in a statement last month. “We are working hard to help moms, dads and caregivers get the high-quality nutrition they need for their babies.” Other suppliers are adapting to meet consumers’ increased demand following the Abbott recall. The manufacturer of the Enfamil formula told USA Today that its factories are running 24/7 and shipped out 30% more of its formula during its first quarter of the year. What should parents and caregivers do? The shortages are understandably making parents and caregivers extremely anxious. Some have turned to social media groups to find out stock levels at different stores, while others have been forced to travel across states or pay extortionate prices online. On Tuesday, many eBay listings for four cans of infant formula were priced at more than $130. Specialty formulas for babies with allergies or medical needs are proving even harder to find. Shortages of these products are especially concerning as infants often cannot drink alternatives. The FDA advises parents and caregivers to contact their child’s healthcare provider if they cannot access these essential specialist formulas. The regulator has also issued guidelines on how to check whether formula products fall within the recent recalls. The FDA also warned against diluting infant formula or attempting to make homemade alternatives. Does baby formula expire? Yes, baby formula does expire. The can should tell you the expiration date, which is usually a year for unopened products. The FDA warns against ordering formula online from outside the U.S., as it could be counterfeit......»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 11th, 2022

Washington Politicians Helped Create the Baby Formula Shortage. Can They Solve It?

A 1989 law led to intense consolidation in the baby formula industry. As parents across the country frantically search for baby formula amid a nationwide shortage, many have heard that the source of the problem is in Sturgis, Mich. That’s where Abbott, the multinational healthcare giant that sells formula under the Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare brands and controls 40% of the U.S. infant formula market, shut down its largest baby food plant in February after a type of bacteria linked to the hospitalization and death of several babies was found in the plant. (Abbott maintains there is not conclusive evidence its formulas harmed children.) But the reason one plant shutting down has had such an outsized impact on the nation’s baby food supply can be traced to Washington, specifically decisions made in the 1980s in Congressional hallways and beleaguered bureaucratic agencies. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Like most issues in Washington, the baby food shortage is a multifaceted one, but it comes down to a simple mismatch between supply and demand. Millions of families use baby formula, and too few brands supply it, leading to catastrophic shortages when just one of the major brands has a lapse in production. By six months of age, roughly three-quarters of babies born in the U.S. are given at least some formula, according to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But lower-income moms are more likely than higher-earning ones to use formula over breastfeeding and start their babies on it earlier in life, due, in part, to the absence of national paid parental leave policies and less flexibility for mothers in service-industry jobs to breastfeed. Read more: 5 Parents on the Stress of Feeding Their Babies Amid Formula Shortage Many of those mothers end up taking part in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children, also known as WIC, which is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through state agencies, WIC gives families earning at or below 185% the federal poverty line vouchers and electronic cards to purchase baby formula on the government’s dime. In 1989, Congress, hoping to keep WIC’s costs down, passed legislation requiring states to use competitive bidding to select one manufacturer of infant formula to be covered by WIC. Roughly half to two-thirds of formula purchased in the U.S. is bought through WIC, according to government estimates. With so many low-income parents relying on formula, the move by Congress led to the bid winners in each state dominating the formula market there. That spurred the kind of intense consolidation in the U.S. formula industry that has not been seen in many other parts of the world. Since the single-contract rule was established more than 30 years ago, only three companies–Abbott, Gerber, and Mead Johnson—have received those WIC contracts. Their control over the market has disincentivized the creation of new brands, which is why the recent loss of Abbott’s products from store shelves has left many parents with few alternatives. As of May 8, 43% of the top-selling infant formula products were out of stock across the country, according to software platform Datasembly, with the range of standard shortages falling between 2% and 8%. “The extremely high levels of concentration in the infant formula market creates a serious risk to infant health if there is any disruption to a major manufacturer’s supply,” Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, and five other Democratic Senators wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week, calling for an “immediate antitrust review.” “This is yet another example of how alarming levels of consolidation hurts American families and can no longer be ignored,” they added. ‘Infant formula is the most regulated food that exists’ In Michigan, mother Elyssa Schmier is among those flummoxed by the empty baby formula shelves at her local grocery stores. She had hoped to exclusively breastfeed her son, who is eight months old, but her body wasn’t producing enough milk—even when she woke up every three hours to pump. Her doctor advised her to supplement with formula, which now makes up approximately 60% of her son’s bottles when she can find it in stores. Schmier, a vice president with MomsRising, which advocates for issues facing mothers and families, expressed frustration with seeing people use the moment to guilt moms for using formula when exclusively breastfeeding a child isn’t feasible for many, especially after they have begun tapering. “The best way to feed a child,” she says, “is to feed a child.” In Washington, many of the proposed solutions to Schmier’s dilemma are focused on the immediate crisis. The Biden Administration has urged states to temporarily loosen regulations around what brands and sizes of formula parents are able to purchase with WIC. A White House official told reporters on Monday that the Administration was also working with the four largest formula brands to identify hurdles to increasing supply domestically; the Administration also announced it would expedite the application and approval process for the importation of non-domestic formulas. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesKarine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., US, on Monday, May 16, 2022. That process normally moves at a snail’s pace due to strict safety regulations governing baby formula. “Infant formula is the most regulated food that exists, by far,” says Dr. Steven A. Abrams, a professor at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and the chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition. “The reason being that if you leave a component out, the baby can have severe brain damage and die.” But international brands are also disincentivized from exporting their baby formula to the U.S. by tariffs as high as 17.5%. Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, is working on a bill that would temporarily waive such tariffs on baby formula products. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, agrees that there needs to be some form of tariff reduction. “The fastest way to get more formula onto the shelves, at least in the short term, is going to be tariff relief,” she told TIME Monday. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and Spanberger, have also urged the Biden Administration to consider invoking the Defense Production Act, a law originally passed amid the Korean War that gives presidents broad powers to control domestic industries during emergency situations. Both Biden and former President Donald Trump invoked the DPA to speed up production of supplies needed to combat the pandemic. “There is ample precedent for using the DPA to address a crisis in peacetime,” Rubio said in a statement last week. But after the current crisis is over, and grocery stores are back to being fully stocked with formula, the underlying consolidation issue will remain, as well as the potential for similar shortages in the future. Addressing that problem would require a major overhaul of WIC, the kind that some experts who follow the issue are skeptical will happen any time soon. “There’s still not an awareness that one of the government’s key roles is to structure markets, so that you don’t have fragile supply chains,” says Matt Stoller, the director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, an antitrust advocacy group, and the author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. Spanberger says there also needs to be more transparency about possible shortages. She and a Republican colleague have drafted a bill that would require baby food manufacturers to inform the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if they anticipate shortages moving forward, like manufacturers of other products do already. “There are certain requirements on various different types of industries that if they are anticipating supply chain disruptions or shortages, that they are to make that known to FDA,” she says, while acknowledging that the proposal wouldn’t solve the current shortages. “This legislation, unfortunately, won’t help us in the here and now,” she says. In the more immediate future, Abbott announced on Monday that it had reached a deal with the FDA to resume operations at its plant in Sturgis as soon as within the next two weeks after the plant addresses safety concerns. This won’t solve Schmier’s problems overnight, though. Abbott has previously said that once that plant was running again, it would take six to eight weeks for baby formula from there to return to store shelves. —with reporting by Alana Semuels in New York.....»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 17th, 2022

Once a moderate Republican, Elise Stefanik is now at the center of the anger over the Buffalo shooting

Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican, lashed out at Democrats and accused the party of using illegal immigration to eventually register more voters. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Rep. Elise Stefanik has been tweeting up a storm following the Buffalo shooting. The Washington Post ran a story on her past comments mirroring replacement theory rhetoric. Stefanik doubled down, accusing the Democrats of boosting voter rolls with undocumented immigrants. When Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York first arrived in Congress back in 2015, she had just flipped a Democratic-held district and earned plaudits as a moderate Republican candidate focused on bipartisan cooperation.Toward the end of President Barack Obama's second term, she boosted her reputation for recruiting women to run for office under the GOP line.Then along came Donald Trump.Increasingly, the Upstate New York lawmaker has transformed herself into a Republican in the mold of the new MAGA GOP. It's evident in her rapid rise through the party's leadership ranks in the wake of fellow GOP Rep. Liz Cheney's troubles for criticizing Trump following the January 6 insurrection. It's evident from Trump's prediction back in January that she'd even "be president in about 6 years." And now it's been driven home via Stefanik's rhetoric surrounding the fatal mass shooting in Buffalo over the weekend. Stefanik initially responded to the shooting Saturday night with a standard condolence tweet and then spent Sunday going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the nationwide baby formula shortage. But the gloves were off by Monday morning once she had put out dual statements from herself and from a campaign spokesperson. —Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) May 16, 2022 The precipitating event prompting the statements: a Washington Post article titled "Stefanik echoed racist theory allegedly espoused by Buffalo suspect." The Post story highlighted her past comments on immigration, which echoed the alleged shooter's writings on white replacement theory. The white supremacist theory posits that Democrats and a cabal of elites are plotting to diminish the influence of white Americans by increasing the number of people of color in the population.Although she did not mention the theory by name, the way Stefanik framed illegal immigration as a way to "overthrow our current electorate" uses the same themes to evoke a sense of fear and incoming siege."Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION," one of Stefanik's campaign ads said. "Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington."The editorial board of the Albany Times-Union responded at the time by saying Stefanik "isn't so brazen as to use the slogans themselves; rather, she couches the hate in alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that's become standard fare for the party of Donald Trump."A Stefanik spokesperson, Alex deGrasse, responded to the Post story before Stefanik began tweeting through the controversy overnight."Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media," deGrasse said in a statement before going on to call the shooting "an act of evil."Early Monday morning, Stefanik doubled down on baselessly accusing the Democratic Party of padding the voter rolls with undocumented immigrants.—Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) May 16, 2022 "Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote," she tweeted on Sunday night. "Like the vast majority of Americans, Republicans want to secure our borders and protect election integrity."Stefanik defended an argument that's barely a few degrees from what the Post pointed out as an example of more mainstreamed white supremacist rhetoric. The claim that Democrats are trying to register undocumented immigrants as new voters has been debunked, and it doesn't take into consideration potential upside of legalized status for the GOP given Trump's overall improved standing with Latino voters.Like Trump, Stefanik took to counter punching when put on the defensive and turned the scrutiny of her record into outrage against her political opponents as well as undocumented immigrants."I continue to go on offense every day against Joe Biden & House Democrats' radical agenda," she tweeted Monday afternoon.Stefanik's latest wave of comments comes on the heels of her recent remarks that Democrats and the White House are "pedo grifters" for sending baby formula to undocumented children in US custody.(A staffer for her constituent office later attempted to clarify she was calling them children engaged in grifting, not pedophiles.)Stefanik is running for reelection effectively unopposed in her district's GOP primary, and is favored to win a 5th term in November — though the precise parameters of her district are only just now being finalized after the state legislature's map was thrown out for overly advantaging Democrats.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare Authored by Matt Stoller via BIG, Big Bottle and the Baby Formula Apocalypse As anyone with an infant knows, there is a major crisis in the feeding of America’s babies right now, because parents in some areas can’t get baby formula. A few months ago, a major producer of formula - Abbott Labs - shut down its main production facilities in Sturgis, Michigan, which had been contaminated with the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii, killing two babies and injuring two others. Abbott provides 43% of the baby formula in the United States, under the brand names Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, so removing this amount of supply from the market is the short-term cause of the problem. (Abbott and Mead Johnson produce 80% of the formula in the U.S., and if you add in Nestle, that gets to 98% of the market.) The problem is not, however, that there isn’t enough formula, so much as the consolidated distribution system creates a lot of shortages in specific states. First, it’s hard to convey what a nightmare this situation is for parents, especially those whose children require special kinds of formula because of gastrointestinal issues or food allergies. “The shortage has led us to decide to put a feeding tube in our child,” said one parent, who simply could not get the specialized formula her daughter needs. Baby formula is not just food, but the primary or sole nutrition for a vulnerable person in a stage of life in which very specific nutritional requirements are necessary for growth. Baby formula was created during the 19th century as we developed modern food preservation techniques. Before this remarkable innovation, baby starvation was common if a mother couldn’t breastfeed her infant (which happens a lot). The invention of industrialized formula was one of those creations we take for granted, but like antibiotics and other medical and scientific advances, it was one that fundamentally changed parenthood and the family. This shortage is showing just how reliant we are on industrialized formula. The causal factor behind the crisis is poor regulation and a consolidated and brittle supply chain. Imports from Europe are often prohibited, even if there were excess productive capacity elsewhere. I spent a bit of time calling around to people who work in formula, and the industry is basically on a war footing. Everyone is panicking, because the situation is, in short, a nightmare. I’m going to try and lay out the situation, and explain the market structure. There are two basic mechanisms that have created a concentrated and brittle market. The first is that regulators are tough on newcomers, but soft on incumbents. And the second is that the Federal government buys more than half of the baby formula in the market, and under the guise of competitive bidding, it in fact hands out monopoly licenses for individual states. That makes it impossible to get newcomers of any scale into the market, along with the more resiliency that such competition brings. It also makes it hard to address shortages in one state with extra formula from elsewhere. But first, let’s start by following the money. Financial Returns or Your Baby’s Life The simplest way to understand why there’s a shortage is to look at the incentives for the CEO of Abbott Labs. Here’s a Reuters report coming out of the company’s investor call in April, after the factory shutdown was underway. Keep in mind, the executives on this call are the people responsible for managing this vital resource, and here’s how seriously they took the problem. “Abbott called the recall a "short-term hindrance" and said it was working closely with the regulator and has begun implementing corrective actions and enhancements to the facility. Abbott shares rose 2.4% to $122.90 in morning trade as some analysts said the comments during the conference call allayed worries over the recall. Despite the recall and supply chain issues, Abbott beat quarterly profit and revenue estimates in the first quarter.” Not a single Wall Street analyst asked about the recall. Why? In some ways, it’s because it doesn’t matter that much to the bottom line. Abbott Labs is a diversified medical devices and health care company, and its nutritional segment is a relatively small part part of its business. But also, if you need baby formula, which is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and distributed by a monopoly-friendly system run by the Department of Agriculture, where else are you gonna go? And that’s the problem. Baby formula is a shared monopoly, and we are at the mercy of Abbott Labs, Read Johnson, and Nestle. And their execs know it. So how does this shared monopoly work? Let’s start with the regulators. The Failed Priesthood at the FDA Entering the baby formula market is a difficult process, and takes years of work. For instance, Bobbie, which makes European-style formula with a contract manufacturer, is the first firm to come into the market in five years. Bobbie is also a direct to consumer niche firm, so it doesn’t have the scale to address the market dislocation at hand. It was a rough road getting started; the firm faced a recall and a shut down purely for manufacturing in Germany, and it had to go through millions of dollars of capital and a steep learning curve to get its product accepted by the FDA. The reason for regulatory hurdles seems good, on the surface. Manufacturing formula is very specific, it’s not like a snack bar, it fits in somewhere between medication and food in the regulatory spectrum. Congress put extremely detailed instructions in the Infant Formula Act of 1980. To get a product approved, an entrant needs protein efficiency studies, thousands of quality tests from raw ingredients to the end product, nutritional tests to make sure it is suitable for infants, and approvals for new suppliers. There are specialized forms of formula for babies with different conditions. Naturally, starting a new formula firm takes a massive amount of time, patience, and capital. And that’s if you just want to make a product and can even find a contract manufacturer to produce it for you. There is just one contract manufacturer of baby formula in the U.S. - Perrigo Nutritionals, and it requires a large initial order volume, which adds a hurdle to new potential firms. What about new factories? Earlier this year, a nutrition company ByHeart became just the fourth infant formula brand to have its own factory, something no one else had done in fifteen years. Certifying a factory for infant formula, like making a new product, is difficult and expensive. Is this expense necessary? Not entirely. The institutional risk tolerance of the FDA is extraordinarily low. FDA officials see themselves as an elite priesthood, pursuing excellence merely by dint of being at the FDA. From this perspective, there is zero incentive to let new players into the baby formula market when, in their view, there are already excellent quality companies serving the market, such as Abbott Labs, Mead Johnson, and Nestle. It’s true that baby formula is overpriced in the U.S., costing about twice as much as it does throughout much of Europe. But to an FDA official, price is incidental. The thinking goes, who wants to be the official that accidentally lets a reckless entrepreneur poison a bunch of babies, just so that there’s some competition in a market that is already delivering good products? When there is no problem at hand, there is no reason to allow innovation in the industry, or additional capacity. The problem, of course, is that the FDA is harsh to newcomers, but deferential to incumbents. According to Healthy Babies Bright Futures, baby formula made by the big guys in the U.S. is full of dangerous brain-altering heavy metals. HBBF tested thirteen different baby formulas, and every single one had “detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead and/or mercury,” which are all considered to be neurotoxic, interfering with brain development and “causing permanent IQ reductions in children.” Moreover, FDA inspections of Abbott plants are obviously a disaster. Abbott had old and dirty equipment making formula, falsified records, deceived regulators, had bad product tracing, and did not fix problems after discovery. FDA inspectors noticed problems with the plant in September, but ignored them. Then, a whistleblower told the FDA of these problems in October, but regulators didn’t even bother to interview him/her until December. Moe Tkacik, in a viral Twitter thread, persuasively laid out parallels to the Boeing/FAA disaster. So, the origin of the baby formula pocalypse was Abbott management's refusal to repair dilapidated and failure-prone drying machines turning the plant into proverbial petri dishes for cronobacter, because... They needed that $5.73 billion for stock buybacks, obvs pic.twitter.com/GBmn3n4SWn — moe tkacik (@moetkacik) May 11, 2022 So that’s the regulatory problem. Then there’s the market structure, which creates a lumpy distribution system when there’s a shortage. Rebates and Scams The biggest buyer of infant formula in the U.S. is WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which is run by the Department of Agriculture. Roughly half of women get formula from WIC. Rather than food stamps, which is a set amount of cash that can be used for most products, most states only allow women to buy formula from one company, though each company offers a bunch of different brands. To save money, the government requires states to hold auctions to get the lowest price for formula. The problem is, state agencies use a complex rebating system to give the contract for the entire state to one manufacturer, and that contract can only be changed once every four years. Here’s the USDA explaining the program. Typically, WIC State agencies obtain substantial discounts in the form of rebates from infant formula manufacturers for each can of formula purchased through the program. In exchange for rebates, a manufacturer is given the exclusive right to provide its product to WIC participants in the State. These sole-source contracts are awarded on the basis of competitive bids. The brand of formula provided by WIC varies by State depending on which manufacturer holds the contract for that State. This rebate system distorts the entire market in a state, because it’s just not worth having alternative formulas on a retail shelf if half of the buyers simply cannot purchase those formulas. As a result, the market tips to the WIC supplier, and that supplier raises prices on non-WIC recipients, and does so by between 26-35%. Here’s what happened to the baby formula market in California when the WIC contract changed hands. This whole scheme, done under the guise of welfare, is essentially a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the poor, done by enriching the baby formula cartel. The monopoly friendly program design was peddled by the anti-poverty group the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which is both on the center-left of the political spectrum and aligned with Wall Street. This brings us back to the shortage. According to Truthout, Abbott is the monopoly provider of formula for 34 states, seven Indian tribal organizations, four territories and Washington, D.C. So that’s where we’d expect the shortages to be focused. Because of the design of the program, it’s not particularly easy to move different kinds of formula to WIC recipients. And that, perhaps more than any actual national shortage, is the problem. Here’s the Wall Street Journal today. “The FDA said overall the nation’s infant formula manufacturers are making enough to meet demand even w/out Abbott’s main factory online. The industry sold more formula in April than it did the month before the recall, the FDA said." The White House echoed these claims, asserting that “more infant formula has been produced in the last four weeks than in the four weeks preceding the recall.” There’s a well-known black market in formula, which speaks to the dysfunction of the distribution system. The shortages are concentrated in certain areas even if nationally there might be enough to get by. According to Heather Bottemiller Evich, there are just “6 states that had baby formula out-of-stock rates higher than 50 percent: Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota were 50-51%. Missouri was 52%. Texas was 53% and Tennessee was 54%.” But nationally, it’s not so bad. However, not all data sets suggest outages this high. @iriworldwide, which pulls information directly from retailers, found that the average in-stock rate is currently about 79% across the U.S. — far below the pre-pandemic norms of 95%, but not critically low. — Helena Bottemiller Evich (@hbottemiller) May 11, 2022 In some ways, the problem is that there’s baby formula, but it’s not in the right place (though the Sturgis factory was a monopoly producer of lots of specialized formulas, so the actual shortage itself is a huge problem). The simplest solution here is to get aggressive and capable leadership around logistics, and then move the formula where it needs to go. We’ll have to open up imports temporarily, and move supply around the country while allowing WIC recipients to buy non-contract brands. I suspect at some point the Biden administration will get their hands on the situation, and fix it. There will be Congressional hearings, and Abbott’s CEO will get yelled at. Longer-term, I hope there will be consequences. First, we need to explore forcing Abbott to break off its nutritional division from the rest of the firm, since it’s fairly obvious that there’s little corporate focus on making sure the baby formula division is run well. Conglomerates are usually inefficient. Second, Congress should really restructure the WIC program so that the auctions don’t create monopolies, and lumpy distribution patterns that induce regional shortages. Finally, the FDA needs wholesale reform, since this kind of crisis seems to happen a lot. I mean, the relationship between the FDA and Abbott Labs was also behind the rapid Covid testing scandal, where FDA official Tim Stenzel - who had worked at Abbott - then approved Abbott as one of two firms to make those tests, and blocked all other entrants. That’s why rapid Covid tests were both in shortage and much more expensive in the U.S. than they are in Europe. The FDA needs to be broken up so that its drugs and food divisions are separate, and it needs to take its mandate seriously for a resilient supply chain. In some ways, this baby formula crisis is the same problem as United having passenger David Dao being beaten up in 2017 and removed from the plane, to public horror and Congressional rage. United’s stock went up after the incident. Or it’s like nurses wearing garbage bags at the beginning of the pandemic because of our dependence on China, and the sad reality that policymakers in the last two years have refused to stop sourcing from China. Hopefully, these kinds of failures, and the public rage, are laying the groundwork for wholesale reform of our government. At every level of policymaking, we have a systemic bias against people who focus on making things, in favor of well-branded monopolists and cloistered regulators who are obsessed with fanciness instead of actual critical thinking. And that’s no way to run a democracy. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 13th, 2022

Russia"s blockade of Ukraine ports is further complicating dire baby formula shortages in the US by preventing exports of key ingredient

Before the war, Ukraine and Russia exported around 75% of the world's sunflower oil, a common ingredient in baby formula. Empty shelves at a supermarket on May 23, 2022 in New York City.JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images Parents around the country are struggling to feed their children amid the baby formula shortage. The situation is being further complicated by the war in Ukraine, experts and execs say. Ukraine is the world's top exporter of sunflower oil, a common ingredient in baby formula. The global supply of infant formula is being further strained by the war in Ukraine, industry experts and executives say.Ukraine is the world's top exporter of sunflower oil, a common ingredient in baby formula. But as the Russian invasion freezes harvests and blocks shipments from Ukraine's ports, companies are scrambling to find alternative sources and substitutes, industry experts told The Wall Street Journal.The military conflict adds yet another complication to an already vulnerable industry hit with supply-chain snags, product recalls, and factory closures in recent months. Patrick Sly — president of global nutrition at Reckitt, the company that produces the baby formula brand Enfamil — told CBS Evening News last week that the shortage has been exacerbated by the complexity of producing formula, which must meet specific standards to ensure proper nutrition and digestion."Our products are very complex products," Sly said. They're almost pharmaceutical-grade products. And there are dozens and dozens of ingredients that go into our products. One example would be one of the oils that goes into our products was impacted by what's going on in Ukraine." Together, Ukraine and Russia export around 75% of the world's sunflower oil. Cooking oil shortages are already being felt in the UK, where grocery stores have limited shoppers on how many bottles they can buy. At a UN security council meeting last week, US Secretary of state Antony Blinken accused Russia of instigating a global food crisis by holding supplies "hostage" at Ukrainian ports. "The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not – to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people," Blinken said. In the US, the formula shortage has led to a rise in hospitalizations, including in Atlanta and South Carolina, where health centers recently reported admitting infants for nutritional deficiencies connected to the scarcity. The shortage worsened in April, when out-of-stock percentages reached 40% at US retailers.On May 18, the Biden administration invoked the Defense Production Act, requiring suppliers of vital ingredients to prioritize formula manufacturers over other customers. The administration also launched Operation Fly Formula, a global effort to import formula into the US. Last week, 78,000 pounds of formula arrived in Indiana from Switzerland as part of the push. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt17 hr. 8 min. ago

Baby Formula Shortage Could Persist Until July: FDA Commissioner

Baby Formula Shortage Could Persist Until July: FDA Commissioner By Mimi Nguyen Lu of The Epoch Times Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said the severe nationwide shortage of baby formula is expected to be eased within two months. Testifying before a Senate hearing, Califf said that while he cannot give exact dates, his expectation is “that within two months we should be beyond normal and with a plethora” of formula supply. “It’s going to be gradual improvement up to probably somewhere around two months until the shelves are replete again,” he told lawmakers at the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the baby formula shortage on Thursday. “Due to all the measures being taken, the shortage is going to be getting better and better.” Empty shelves show a shortage of baby formula at CVS in San Antonio, Texas, on May 10, 2022 Califf said that FDA inspectors found unsanitary conditions at the Sturgis facility, including evidence of previous bacterial contamination, roof leaks, and a lack of adequate hygiene. Before it can reopen, the facility has to implement a series of steps to ensure safe production to comply with U.S. food safety standards, he said. Supply chain pressures and a shortage of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been responsible for an ongoing baby formula shortage in the nation, but the supply became even more scarce after Abbott Nutrition in February recalled multiple baby formula products, including some Similac products, after four infants fell sick, two of whom died. Abbott, which has the largest U.S. market share for infant formula, also temporarily shuttered its formula manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan—where the recalled products were produced—over safety concerns, after an FDA investigation found unsanitary conditions there. The plant is one of three run by Abbott. An investigation into suspected bacterial contamination at the facility failed to confirm a link to the recalled products, with the FDA saying the bacterial strains the infants fell sick to did not match the strains at the plant. Abbott said the plant is due to resume production on June 4, but previously noted it would take six to eight weeks for the products to arrive in stores. The company said it would prioritize supplying its specialty formula EleCare on or about June 20. The formula would be provided to children in need for free. Robert Califf, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing about the baby formula shortage, in Washington, on May 25, 2022 On Wednesday, Califf had told House lawmakers that Abbott did not have a contingency plan to produce its specialty formulas that serve as the only source of nutrition for thousands of babies with metabolic disorders. He added that the best option was to enter into a consent decree agreement with Abbott, “where we literally have oversight of every single step” of remediation of problems at the facility to get it back to production as soon as possible. The FDA eased import restrictions this month by doing away with various labeling requirements. These rules had contributed to about 98 percent of the pre-crisis baby formula supply being produced domestically by just three companies. The Biden administration sees the easing of restrictions as a temporary measure before the normal supply chain stabilizes. Separately, the U.S. Department of Defense is airlifting about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of baby formula from Europe, as part of the White House’s recently launched initiative “Operation Fly Formula.” The first lots of formula arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, from Germany on Sunday. The Biden administration also invoked the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers obtain ingredients to produce more baby formula. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/27/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 27th, 2022

The FTC says it will "fully enforce the law" against baby formula sellers who are price gouging parents

FTC Chair Lina Khan said the agency would "fully enforce the law against anyone who deceives, exploits, or scams" families attempting to buy formula. Dominick Reuter/Insider The FTC is investigating possible fraud and price gouging amid the national shortage of baby formula. Sellers on Ebay, Amazon and Craigslist, and Facebook are charging double or more than retail price. The agency is also examining the possible role of automated systems diverting retail supply. The US Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it is investigating the possibility of fraud and price gouging as families struggle to buy baby formula in a national shortage.FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement that the agency would "fully enforce the law against anyone who deceives, exploits, or scams" families attempting to buy formula supplies. In addition, Khan said the inquiry will help the agency understand how to avoid similar market failures in the future.The announcement comes a day after NBC News reported parents were seeing markups of 300% and up on websites like Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, and Facebook. The outlet reported that it spoke with 13 parents across the US and reviewed over 100 listings that appeared to gouge prices."Get over it," one seller told a parent in messages seen by NBC News. "it is not illegal u may dislike but u have NO right to interfere in my business. people do it constantly."Last week, Insider found several examples on Ebay where sellers were charging roughly double the suggested retail price for formula products. Others listings appeared to charge a smaller markup, but added shipping fees that cost double or triple the price of the item.Screenshots from May 19 showing Ebay listings that are charging up to twice the retail price for formula.InsiderEbay has a reporting tool for shoppers to report price gouging, a spokesperson told NBC. The FTC has a portal as well, at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.In her statement, Khan also said the FTC will also be on the lookout for the role of bots or other automated systems that buy large amounts of formula from ordinary retailers and mark it up for sale to families."Over the last few years, Americans have repeatedly experienced cycles of supply chain disruptions, shortages, stockpiling of remaining supplies, and reseller profiteering and price gouging," Khan said. "The FTC will do everything within its power to ensure the markets for other life-sustaining and vital products are competitive and resilient."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 26th, 2022

First shipment of baby formula arrives in Indiana as part of Operation Fly Formula, delivering 78,000 pounds of product from Switzerland with more on the way

The much-needed order comes amid a nationwide formula shortage that has led to infant hospitalizations and prompted parents to take extreme measures. Department of Defense // U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 721st Aerial Port Squadron load a pallet of Nestlé infant formula onto a C-17Globemaster lll aircraft assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 22,2022. The President of the United States launched Operation Fly Formula to speed up the import of infant formula from Europe to the United States due to critical shortages there. These formulas have been prioritized because they serve a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States because of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure.U.S. Air Force photo by Airman1st Class Jared Lovett The first import of baby formula as part of Operation Fly Formula just arrived in the US.  A military cargo plane carrying more than 70,000 pounds of formula touched down in Indiana on Sunday. Parents in the US have struggled with a massive formula shortage caused by supply chain challenges and product recalls. Operation Fly Formula's first shipment of baby formula has officially arrived in the US.A military cargo plane carrying 78,000 pounds of infant formula touched down in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sunday, part of an effort launched by the Biden administration to mitigate the nationwide shortage. The formula came from Switzerland and was first transported to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where it was then flown to Indiana.FedEx will move the formula to a Nestle distribution center nearby for a standard quality control check before it is distributed to hospitals, pharmacies, and doctor's offices, an administration official onsite said, according to the Associated Press.—President Biden (@POTUS) May 22, 2022 President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula earlier this week to fast track the import of infant formula and get the product back on store shelves amid a dire formula scarcity in the US. The shortage, caused in part by supply chain challenges and product recalls, worsened last month prompting some families to take extreme measures.While some more affluent parents resorted to purchasing formula on black market forums at a significant markup, others sought out substitutes or attempted to make their own homemade formula. Doctors have strongly discouraged these alternatives, noting that formula must adhere to specific standards to ensure proper digestion.  The shortage has also led to hospitalizations around the nation, as infants struggle with malnutrition. On Saturday, local outlets reported that four babies are seeking treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina for nutritional deficiencies related to the formula shortage. Out-of-stock rates for formula reached 40% at US retailers by the end of April, up from 31% at the start of the month, according to grocery price tracking service Datasembly.In total, Operation Fly Formula shipments will transport the equivalent of up to 1.5 million eight-ounce bottles of three Nestlé formulas: Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior, and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA. The products are all hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow's milk protein allergies.According to The White House, these formulas are being prioritized because "they serve a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States because of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure."Sunday's shipment included 132 pallets of Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior, and 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA are expected to reach the US in the coming days.Along with Operation Fly Formula, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act earlier this week to ramp up domestic production of baby formula."We're proud to be able to make a difference in the lives of children and their parents and caregivers who are struggling to find formula right now due to the recent shortage," Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement. "While more is on the way, our hope is that this progress gives concerned parents a little more comfort to know we are committed to doing all we can to support them during this time."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 22nd, 2022

Four babies have been hospitalized in South Carolina due to the national formula shortage

Around the country, parents struggling to find formula are feeding their infant children homemade formula or substitutes, which doctors warn against. By Heart infant formula.ByHeart At least four babies have been hospitalized in South Carolina due to a national formula shortage. The babies are receiving nutritional treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina. Parents around the country are struggling to feed their children as the shortage continues. Four babies in South Carolina have been hospitalized because of the nationwide formula shortage, according to local news outlet The State.At least four babies were checked into the Medical University of South Carolina for nutritional deficiencies connected to the shortage, according to hospital spokesperson Heather M. Woolwine. Woolwine told The State that "pediatric dietitians are working with the individual child's care team to find a formula or nutrition that works for him or her based on allergy and caloric needs." The hospital is one of several around the country responding to an increase in hospitalizations of babies seeking nutritional treatment due to the infant formula shortage.Earlier this year, Abbott Laboratories closed its formula plant following complaints that infants had contracted infections after consuming bacteria found in Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare products. The Michigan-based company recalled the brands, plunging the country further into an infant formula shortage.As parents struggle to secure formula for their infant children, some are attempting to substitute with homemade formula or other alternatives. Doctors, however, are warning against using substitutes because baby formula has to be made with certain specifications to ensure infants can digest it properly.Last week, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, forcing suppliers to prioritize and manufacture baby formula."Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains," a statement from the White House said.Part of the effort involves using military resources to fly in ingredients or supplies from overseas. Commercial aircrafts contracted by the Defense Department, for example, will bring in Nestlé S.A. formula from Switzerland. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 21st, 2022

First batch of infant formula headed to US from Switzerland as at least one hospital reported treating babies fed homemade and diluted formulas

On Thursday, the White House said the first batch was being sent from Switzerland to Indiana. Empty shelves showing a shortage of baby formula in San Antonio, Texas.REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal. The White House on Wednesday announced "Operation Fly Formula" to address the national shortage. On Thursday, the White House said the first batch was being sent from Switzerland to Indiana. Meanwhile an ER doctor in Texas told Insider they are treating babies who were fed diluted formula. The first batch of baby formula is being imported to the US from Switzerland as part of President Joe Biden's "Operation Fly Formula," which was launched to address the ongoing national shortage.The White House on Thursday announced a batch of Nestlé S.A. formula would be transported from Zurich, Switzerland, to Plainfield, Indiana, by commercial aircrafts contracted by the Department of Defense.Hypoallergenic formulas intended for babies with dairy milk allergies are being prioritized "because they serve a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States because of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure," the statement said.Operation Fly Formula was announced Wednesday and allows the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture to use military resources to pick up baby formula from overseas.The operation is part of a series of measures taken by the Biden administration to address the infant formula shortage as empty shelves have left parents across America scrambling to find food for their babies.Insider's Anna Medaris reported Wednesday that an emergency room in Texas has been treating babies whose parents fed them homemade or watered-down formula, putting the infants at risk for life-threatening seizures.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

I started a Facebook group for desperate moms who need formula. It"s the only way I can feed my baby right now.

There's "a lot of price gouging," Sarah Cosley said. "People are taking advantage of desperate moms." But the group has reminded her "of the goodness of people." Sarah Cosley and her 6-month-old daughter, Brooklyn.Sarah Cosley Sarah Cosley began noticing her daughter's formula was missing from shelves in January. She started a Facebook group for other moms. In less than two weeks it's grown to nearly 500 people. Now its members are shipping each other formula. This is Cosley's story, as told to Kaila Yu. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Sarah Cosley, a 38-year-old mom from Dubuque, Iowa, about the national formula shortage. The following has been edited for length and clarity.My 6-month-old daughter's name is Brooklyn, and I don't know how long I can feed her.I'm so exhausted, and I'm on the brink of tears some days. I work full time as a surgical technician, and it's grueling, with at least two 12-hour shifts weekly. And I now spend almost all my free time trying to find formula for my baby.In January I went to Target and Walmart and found that the shelves were emptyI started panicking and called her pediatrician. They contacted Similac, the formula brand, who said there weren't any shortage issues. Their best advice was to go to Similac's website and see what stores had Brooklyn's formula, Pro-Total Comfort, in stock. The website directed me to stores I'd already visited, and I knew I'd met a dead end. That's how it's been ever since.My first daughter, Annabelle, is 9 1/2. She was also formula-fed because I was extremely sick with both pregnancies. I had preeclampsia and was suffering uncontrollable blood pressure postdelivery — I almost didn't survive. Both girls were in the newborn intensive-care unit for a week, and I couldn't breastfeed due to health complications.At this point I can't get Brooklyn's formula in any form, liquid or powder. I can't find any equivalents either. Anything that I find on Amazon is typically out of stock or unavailable.I knew there must be other desperate moms out thereAnd I felt I had to do something for myself and anyone else that I could reach.I started the Infant Formula Shortage Support Group Facebook group on May 7 when I was completely out of ideas. As of Thursday it has nearly 500 members. The group is growing by word of mouth, and also because I've been commenting on articles about the formula crisis with my group information.In my first post, I wrote, "If anyone is looking for a certain type of formula, please reach out, and maybe someone can help. Even venting on here may help us to cope with this dire situation. Something needs to be done now. Babies should not suffer because of a lack of access to the formula they need."Now we have moms searching for formula in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Idaho, Maryland, Texas, Florida, Tennessee — across the country. It's clearly a national crisis, because members are from all over the US. The majority of what I'm seeing is that stores are almost empty.The group is the only reason I'm getting the formula right nowTwo moms from Arizona and California are mailing me what they have in excess.Currently, I have about eight bottles and a can of powder. Brooklyn's intake varies, and she's growing, so I can't gauge how far this will get me. It's a team effort here, and my family is also helping out: My mother, grandmother, aunt, and fiancé are constantly searching.Purchasing international formulas is not a viable option, and it would take hours to research because of the different labeling, brands, and regulations — I wouldn't even know where to start.There's so much misinformation out there, including how to make your baby formula, which doctors don't recommend. There's also a lot of price gouging, which makes me sick to my stomach — people are taking advantage of desperate moms.But the Facebook group has reminded me of the goodness of peopleThere are so many strangers willing to jump in to help. We've got people trying their darnedest to help mothers locate the formula.There are also moms donating or selling breast milk. That's an "at your own risk" situation — you have no idea how your baby will respond.Apparently the FDA reached an agreement with the company that produces Similac to address safety concerns so its factory can reopen — but it could take more than two months for that formula to be available.There are 10,000 babies born every day, and we need a solution now.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

BBB warns against baby formula scams amid national shortage: "Scammers are watching"

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning parents that baby formula scams could be on the rise as the national formula shortage receives mainstream attention......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsMay 18th, 2022

Biden invokes the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of baby formula as parents face a national shortage

The White House also announced "Operation Fly Formula" that will use military aircraft to pick up baby formula from abroad that meets FDA standards. Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store in Carmel, Ind., Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Parents across the U.S. are scrambling to find baby formula because supply disruptions and a massive safety recall have swept many leading brands off store shelves.Michael Conroy/Associated Press President Joe Biden announced new measures Wednesday to address the national baby formula shortage. Invoking the Defense Production Act gives formula manufacturers priority in obtaining ingredients. The White House also announced plans to use military aircraft to pick up formula from abroad. The White House on Wednesday announced new measures to address the national shortage of baby formula, including that President Joe Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act.Invoking the act allows the government require suppliers to send needed ingredients to baby formula manufacturers ahead of any other customers, according to a statement announcing the move."Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains," the statement said.Another announced measure was "Operation Fly Formula," which will allow the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture to use military aircraft to pick up baby formula from over seas. The statement said the formulas from abroad must meet the Food and Drug Administration's safety standards."I've directed my team to do everything possible to ensure there is enough safe baby formula and that it is quickly reaching families that need it the most," Biden said in a video announcing the measures.—President Biden (@POTUS) May 18, 2022 The measures come as empty shelves have left parents across America scrambling to find food for their babies, especially for infants with allergies who rely on specialty formulas.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 18th, 2022

Nestle is flying baby formula from Europe to the US to help tackle nationwide shortages

Shortages of baby formula across the US caused by supply chain constraints and product recalls have left some parents struggling to find supplies. Empty shelves showing a shortage of baby formula in San Antonio, Texas.REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal. Nestle is sending more baby formula to the US to help ease shortages. The company told Insider it would fly formula from Switzerland and the Netherlands. Formula shortages are ongoing in the US as a result of supply chain constraints and product recalls. Nestle is flying baby formula from Europe to the US amid ongoing shortages of the product, the company said on Tuesday.In a statement sent to Insider, Nestle said it was accelerating production of baby formula in Europe for shipment to the US, despite being a "small player" in the US market. "We have significantly increased the amount of our infant formula available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as in hospitals for those most vulnerable," the statement said.Supermarkets across the US have been hit by shortages of baby formula as a result of ongoing disruptions in the supply chain and after a series of recalls by manufacturer Abbott Nutrition following complaints of illnesses in four infants who consumed its products. Retail giants including Target, Walgreens, and CVS have rationed supplies online or in store.Nestle said it would send supplies of its Alfamino infant formula from Switzerland and its Gerber formula from the Netherlands to the US to help ease constraints."We prioritized these products because they serve a critical medical purpose as they are for babies with cow's milk protein allergies," the statement said."Of note, both products were already being imported but we moved shipments up and rushed via air to help fill immediate needs," it added.The shortage of baby formula has caused concern among parents who are anxious about feeding their children. "It's stressful enough being a new mom, whether it's your first, second, third child, or whatever, but this is an extra layer of stress," Jessica Booth, of Long Island, New York, recently told Insider's Jane Ridley.Abbott Nutrition recently stated it could restart production at its shuttered Michigan plant within two weeks. It would still take around six to eight weeks for products to reach the shelves following the restart, the company added. The US Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that it is encouraging international formula manufacturers to send more supplies to the US, where the body would make it easier to accept and distribute products.FDA commissioner, Robert M. Califf, added that the initiative could result in imported formula reaching US shelves in "a matter of weeks."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

White House "Near Deal" To Reopen Abbott Baby Formula Plant, Allow Imports

White House 'Near Deal' To Reopen Abbott Baby Formula Plant, Allow Imports The Biden administration on Monday is expected to announce an agreement which would reopen the largest domestic baby formula plant in addition to easing import rules to allow for supplies from overseas, according to NBC San Diego. According to the White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, a consent decree between Abbott and the FDA is "forthcoming," while the agency will take steps on imports to address urgent supply constraints. The administration has been under fire over the last week for doing nothing to ease the shortage of formula due to a malfunctioning drying machine that contaminated several batches, killing two children and injuring two more. The contamination led to a February recall by Abbott, which shuttered the company's Michigan plan at perhaps the worst possible time amid ongoing supply chain disruptions among other manufacturers. Abbott is one of four major producers that account for roughly 90% of baby formula in the US. Over the weekend, the White House offered formula manufacturers and retailers transportation and logistics support, and working with all major formula producers to boost production, including reaching out to their suppliers to encourage them to prioritize production and delivery of formula ingredients. -NBC According to Deese, the administration "made clear to all of them that federal resources, including transportation and logistics resources, are available and on call and we are prepared to move assets in coordination with them as and when we identify need." The FDA has warned parents not to try and make their own baby formula - and to instead call their doctor or seek charities with supplies of milk. During its six-week investigation, the FDA published a list of problems in March, including issues with sanitary standards and safety, as well as a history of bacterial contamination in several areas of the plant. Abbott, however, said that its products have not been directly linked to the bacterial infections in children, as samples found at the plant did not match the strains collected from the babies. The company has repeatedly said it's ready to continue manufacturing, however the FDA has not allowed them to do so. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 16:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

Now We Are Being Told To Expect Food And Diesel Shortages For The Foreseeable Future

Now We Are Being Told To Expect Food And Diesel Shortages For The Foreseeable Future Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog, If you think that the food and diesel shortages are bad now, then you will be absolutely horrified by what the globe is experiencing by the end of the year.  All over the planet, food production is being crippled by an unprecedented confluence of factors.  The war in Ukraine, extremely bizarre weather patterns, nightmarish plagues and a historic fertilizer crisis have combined to create a “perfect storm” that isn’t going away any time soon.  As a result, the food that won’t be grown in 2022 will become an extremely severe global problem by the end of this calendar year.  Global wheat prices have already risen by more than 40 percent since the start of 2022, but this is just the beginning.  Meanwhile, we are facing unthinkable diesel fuel shortages in the United States this summer, and as you will see below there are “no plans” to increase refining capacity in this country for the foreseeable future. If you had told me six months ago that we would be dealing with the worst baby formula shortage in U.S. history in the middle of 2022, I am not sure that I would have believed you. But that is precisely what we are now facing.  One young couple in Florida searched stores in their area for four hours and couldn’t find anything… When Erik and Kelly Schmidt, both 35, went into a Central Florida Target store this week to buy their usual baby formula, Up & Up Gentle, for their five-month-old twins, they found an empty shelf. The pair then embarked on a half-day journey in search of formula, any formula, and their quest didn’t end there. “We spent over four hours going to every Target, different Walmarts, different grocery stores, just finding absolutely nothing,” Erik Schmidt said. Of course the Biden administration has made sure that there is enough baby formula for migrants that are illegally crossing the border, but for millions of ordinary American families this crisis has become a complete and utter nightmare. One father actually broke down in tears right in the middle of the baby formula aisle in Walmart because things have become so desperate for his family… Sara Owens, of Florence County, said she was hunting for baby formula for his six-month-old daughter, Namoi, amid a nationwide shortage when she encountered a dad break into tears after driving from store to store looking for his daughter’s brand of formula. ‘As tears continued to stream down his face he said ‘I never thought I would be crying because I can’t find what my child has to have,” Owens wote in the Facebook post that’s been shared more than 180,000 times. ‘My heart broke to 100 pieces on the formula aisle in Walmart.’ Sadly, we shouldn’t expect any improvement any time soon. As I discussed last week, the Biden administration shut down one of the most important baby formula manufacturing facilities in this country a while ago, and the CEO of Abbott Nutrition says that it will take a few months to get products back on the shelves once the FDA finally allows them to reopen the plant… Meanwhile, the plant remains closed as the company works to make upgrades to the facility to meet the FDA’s recommendations. Abbott says it can have products from the facility back on store shelves after a few months once the FDA signs off on them doing so. Needless to say, baby formula is not the only thing in short supply right now.  As shortages grow and prices spiral out of control, grocery stores are increasingly becoming prime targets for thieves. In fact, things have already gotten so bad in the Midwest that one major supermarket chain has decided to post armed guards in their stores… The shoulder patches say, “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle,” but the police-style uniforms, complete with belts with holstered taser and possibly handguns, may send a very different message as Hy-Vee deploys a new retail security team in its stores. The West Des Moines-based supermarket chain will begin introducing its own security force “as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of both its customers and employees,” the company announced in a news release on Dec. 29. The program will roll out throughout 2022, but security teams are already present in some stores. As I have warned for many years, eventually we will see armed guards in supermarkets and on food delivery trucks all over the nation. In the months ahead, food production is going to be way below expectations all over the globe.  The following summary of what farmers are currently facing comes from Zero Hedge… Across the world, top wheat-producing regions are experiencing adverse weather conditions that could threaten production. In places like Ukraine, a military invasion by Russia has slashed production significantly. All of this suggests the world is on the cusp of a food crisis. Droughts, floods, and heatwaves have plagued farmland in the U.S., Europe, India, and China. As for Ukraine, the world’s largest wheat producer, the war could slash production by upwards of a third. As I have previously detailed, some countries have already decided to ban certain types of agricultural exports as they brace for the coming global food crisis. And we just learned that India has now decided to ban the export of all wheat… India, the second-largest producer of wheat, has banned exports of the commodity, due to a risk to its food security. A Friday notice in the government gazette signed by Santosh Kumar Sarangi, the Director General of Foreign Trade, said that a “sudden spike” in the global prices of wheat was putting India, neighboring and other vulnerable countries at risk. This is huge. Supplies of food are getting tighter with each passing week, and this is already starting to spark food riots all over the world. For example, we witnessed some very emotional protests in Iran last week… Protests broke out in Iran Thursday after the government cut subsidies for food, sending prices through the roof as authorities brace for more unrest in the following weeks. In videos shared on social media, protesters can be seen marching through Dezful and Mahshahr in the southwestern province of Khezestan, chanting “Death to Khamenei! Death to Raisi!” referring to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has promised to create jobs, lift sanctions, and rescue the economy. And in Sri Lanka the citizens are so angry that they are actually burning down the homes of politicians… Protesters in Sri Lanka have burned down homes belonging to 38 politicians as the crisis-hit country plunged further into chaos, with the government ordering troops to “shoot on sight.” Police in the island nation said Tuesday that in addition to the destroyed homes, 75 others have been damaged as angry Sri Lankans continue to defy a nationwide curfew to protest against what they say is the government’s mishandling of the country’s worst economic crisis since 1948. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Things will get really crazy in the months ahead as global food supples get a whole lot tighter. Meanwhile, we are being warned that there is likely to be a “diesel fuel shortage on the East Coast” during the months ahead… The possibility of a diesel fuel shortage is being monitored as diesel fuel prices across the country and in Maryland continue to surpass all-time highs. According to fuel industry experts, all signs are pointing to a potential diesel fuel shortage on the East Coast that could cripple an already fragile supply chain. Last week, the price of diesel fuel in the U.S. rose to an all-time record high of $5.62 a gallon, and it is only going to go higher. The biggest reason why we are facing such a supply crunch right now is because there are “simply too few refineries turning oil into usable fuels”… From record gasoline prices to higher airfares to fears of diesel rationing ahead, America’s runaway energy market is disquieting both US travelers and the wider economy. But the chief driver isn’t high crude prices or even the rebound in demand: It’s simply too few refineries turning oil into usable fuels. Surely more refineries are being built to meet the growing demand, right? Wrong. Mountains of regulations that have been instituted by our politicians make it extremely difficult to build and operate a new refinery in this country. As a result, we are being told that “the supply squeeze is only going to get worse” for the foreseeable future… More than 1 million barrels a day of the country’s oil refining capacity — or about 5% overall — has shut since the beginning of the pandemic. Elsewhere in the world, capacity has shrunk by 2.13 million additional barrels a day, energy consultancy Turner, Mason & Co. estimates. And with no plans to bring new US plants online, even though refiners are reaping record profits, the supply squeeze is only going to get worse. To a very large degree, we have done this to ourselves. And as I keep telling my readers, decades of very foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us in a major way. Our trucks and our trains run on diesel, and so a shortage of diesel will only make our ongoing supply chain crisis even worse. This nightmare never seems to end, and there will be plenty of pain in the months ahead. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 14:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

Kim Jong Un bragged that he taste-tested North Korea"s baby formula and ordered improvements, a likely jab at the US shortage

A bizarre announcement about Kim Jong Un overseeing North Korea's baby formula recipe came as the US faces widespread shortages. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seen in a photo dated April 29, 2022, released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).KCNA via Reuters North Korean media bragged about its baby formula in a bizarre story about leader Kim Jong Un. Kim personally taste-tested the state's baby formula recipe last September, state media said.  The article is a likely jab at the widespread formula shortages faced in the USA.  Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the perfection of North Korea's baby formula recipe, state media said, in what is likely a swipe at shortages of formula in the US. Around 4 a.m. on September 15, 2021, a senior Pyongyang official got a phone call from Kim Jong Un himself, according to an English translation of a Voice of Korea article via KCNA Watch.KCNA Watch is a South Korea-based outlet that monitors and translates North Korean media. The North Korean leader had tasted a trial batch of "diluted dry milk" for children and "pointed out the shortcomings one by one" to the official, Voice of Korea reported. The outlet described Kim as "like a mother who tastes a food for her child first to see if it is too hot and if it is too salty." Since that phonecall, Pyongyang produced new and improved formula, the outlet reported. The fawning article came as the US faced a severe shortage of formula that has prompted deep concern in parents, as Insider's Jane Ridley reported. A combination of demand for staff, supply chain issues, and widespread product recalls led to the shortage, which particularly affects parents who can't nurse, and babies whose health issues make them dependent on formula. The issue has also been politicized. On Friday the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, accused President Joe Biden of prioritizing migrant babies over American ones after Rep. Kat Cammack posted a video to Facebook that said "pallets of baby formula" were being sent to migrant processing centers.North Korea, a totalitarian state, has no independent media. State-controlled outlets like Voice of Korea and The Pyongyang Times frequently highlight negative news stories from the US — particularly those that drive political rifts — while providing obsequious coverage of Kim's activities. The highly secretive state is in the midst of an outbreak of an unnamed "fever" affecting more than 350,000 people, according to state media — which is widely suspected to be COVID-19.The state publicly reported its first ever COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began on May 12, days before it announced the spread of the reported "fever."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

Kim Jong-Un bragged that he taste-tested North Korea"s baby formula and ordered improvements, a likely jab at the US shortage

A bizarre announcement about Kim Jong-Un overseeing North Korea's baby formula recipe came as the US faces widespread shortages. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seen in a photo dated April 29, 2022, released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).KCNA via Reuters North Korean media bragged about its baby formula in a bizarre story about leader Kim Jong-Un. Kim personally taste-tested the state's baby formula recipe last September, state media said.  The article is a likely jab at the widespread formula shortages faced in the USA.  Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the perfection of North Korea's baby formula recipe, state media said, in what is likely a swipe at shortages of formula in the US. Around 4 a.m. on September 15, 2021, a senior Pyongyang official got a phone call from Kim Jong Un himself, according to an English translation of a Voice of Korea article via KCNA Watch.KCNA Watch is a South Korea-based outlet that monitors and translates North Korean media. The North Korean leader had tasted a trial batch of "diluted dry milk" for children and "pointed out the shortcomings one by one" to the official, Voice of Korea reported. The outlet described Kim as "like a mother who tastes a food for her child first to see if it is too hot and if it is too salty." Since that phonecall, Pyongyang produced new and improved formula, the outlet reported. The fawning article came as the US faced a severe shortage of formula that has prompted deep concern in parents, as Insider's Jane Ridley reported. A combination of demand for staff, supply chain issues, and widespread product recalls led to the shortage, which particularly affects parents who can't nurse, and babies whose health issues make them dependent on formula. The issue has also been politicized. On Friday the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, accused President Joe Biden of prioritizing migrant babies over American ones after Rep. Kat Cammack posted a video to Facebook that said "pallets of baby formula" were being sent to migrant processing centers.North Korea, a totalitarian state, has no independent media. State-controlled outlets like Voice of Korea and The Pyongyang Times frequently highlight negative news stories from the US — particularly those that drive political rifts — while providing obsequious coverage of Kim's activities. The highly secretive state is in the midst of an outbreak of an unnamed "fever" affecting more than 350,000 people, according to state media — which is widely suspected to be COVID-19.The state publicly reported its first ever COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began on May 12, days before it announced the spread of the reported "fever."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

Abbott says if the FDA were to re-open its Michigan facility to address baby formula shortage, it would still take months to get more on shelves

A recall of products produced at Abbott's Sturgis, Michigan facility has contributed to a nationwide shortage of baby formula. Similac baby formula is displayed on the shelves at Shaker's IGA in Olmsted Falls, Ohio.Mark Duncan/AP Photo Abbott says it could reopen its Michigan facility in two weeks if the FDA approves.  But even in that case, they say it will take between 6 to 8 weeks to get formulas on shelves.  In the meantime, the FDA is scrambling to address a national baby formula shortage.  Abbott, the company that produces baby formula, said that if the FDA were to approve reopening its Michigan facility, it could do so in two weeks — but it would still take months to see baby formula on shelves. The company recalled several lots of the formula brands Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare in February following complaints that infants contracted cronobacter sakazakii, an environmental bacteria. All four babies used formula produced at the company's Sturgis, Michigan facility.The recall has worsened a nationwide infant formula shortage.Despite Abbott's timeline, The Washington Post reported that the FDA is still not done investigating the facility. The FDA report said cronobacter sakazakii bacteria was found in a number of areas in the facility, and other safety protocols, such as employees wearing gloves, were not observed. "The plant remains closed as the company works to correct findings related to the processes, procedures and conditions that the FDA observed during its inspection of the facility, which raised concerns that powdered infant formula produced at this facility prior to the FDA's inspection carry a risk of contamination," an FDA spokeswoman told The Post. In the meantime, as more than 40% of leading baby formulas are out of stock, the FDA said all US-based formula manufacturers have increased production in recent weeks, and more products should be available on shelves soon.Abbott also said it's been shipping in products produced in their Cootehill, Ireland, facility "to serve state Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) consumers."Additionally, to ease the burden on parents, the Post reported that Califf said the FDA plans to let foreign manufacturers and suppliers ship products to the US.  —Dr. Robert M. Califf (@DrCaliff_FDA) May 13, 2022 "FDA is working closely w/ our federal government partners to safely bring as much infant formula to US shelves as quickly as possible. This is a top priority for FDA. Our team will continue working around the clock to resolve the current supply challenges as quickly as possible," Robert Califf, the FDA commissioner, said in a tweet.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 14th, 2022