US flies in military planeload of German baby formula
The US military has flown a C-17 aircraft loaded with 70,000lb (31,751kg) of Swiss Nestle baby formula to Indianapolis from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters on Sunday. The shipment is part of Operation Fly Formula, the Biden administration’s new program aimed at addressing the massive baby formula shortage currently gripping the US.
Speaking to reporters at Indianapolis International Airport, Vilsack praised the delivery, which he said could “take care of 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week.” A total of 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of formula are expected to arrive in the next week.
The US Food and Drug Administration announced it would temporarily allow imports of baby formula from foreign producers on Monday in an effort to ameliorate the shortage, which kicked into high gear in February after already-extant Covid-19 supply chain issues were compounded by bacterial contamination at the country’s largest formula maker, Abbott Labs.
The Biden administration has also invoked the Defense Production Act in an effort to bolster the availability of ingredients needed to produce the formula.
While the Department of Justice has since reached a tentative agreement with Abbott to resolve those contamination issues, even if the FDA gives the company the go-ahead to resume manufacturing, it is expected to take from eight to 10 weeks to address the shortage domestically.
The price of the precious item has increased by as much as 18% since last year, according to CBS News. However, inflation in general has soared to near-record levels in the US, and most foods and commodities like gasoline cost far more than a year ago.