A shipment of infant formula meant to fill a national shortage arrived in the United States from Europe on Sunday, and a second flight is expected to bring additional supplies in the coming days, the Biden administration said.
The shipment, equivalent to about 500,000 eight-ounce bottles, contained a hypoallergenic formula for children allergic to cow’s milk protein, the White House said in a statement. It provides enough formula to care for 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a televised address at the Indianapolis airport, where the cargo arrived on a military plane from Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“This formula delivery serves an essential medical purpose and will help infants with specific dietary needs requiring specialized formula,” Vilsack said. said on Twitter.
A second shipment, expected to arrive this week, would bring the formula supply to the equivalent of 1.5 million eight-ounce bottles of three formulas, which would then be distributed from a Nestlé facility in Pennsylvania.
The effects of the Sturgis plant closure have been widespread, with stores limiting formula purchases and parents desperate for supplies or trying to make formula at home, which pediatricians discourage. The shortage has also been exacerbated by supply chain issues and labor shortages associated with the pandemic.
The White House statement said the pallets of infant formula that arrived on Sunday were “priority because they serve essential medical purposes” and were in short supply due to the closure of the Sturgis plant.
In another step to address acute shortages, the FDA announced last week that it would relax some of its regulations to encourage new suppliers to supply infant formula. The United States normally produces around 98% of the formula it consumes, with imports coming mainly from Mexico, Ireland and the Netherlands.