78,000 Pounds of Infant Formula Heading to US, Says White House – NBC Chicago

Enough special infant formula for more than half a million bottles arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday.

The formula, which weighed 78,000 pounds (35,380 kilograms), was being transported on a military plane, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Joe Biden flew from South Korea to Japan.

It is the first of several flights carrying infant formula from Europe expected this weekend to ease growing shortages in the US The flights were authorized by Biden.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to greet the arrival of the first shipment in Indianapolis.

The Biden administration, which has struggled to address nationwide shortages of formula, particularly hypoallergenic varieties, has dubbed the effort “Operation Formula to Fly.” The crisis follows the closure of the nation’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan in February due to security concerns.

The White House has said that 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula would leave Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the U.S. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were expected to arrive in the next few weeks. days. In total, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with allergies to cow’s milk protein, are expected to arrive this week.

Indianapolis was chosen because it is a distribution center for Nestlé. The formula will be unloaded onto FedEx semi-trailers and taken to a Nestlé distribution center a mile away, where the company will conduct a standard quality control check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices, according to a report. administration official on site. .

Air Force planes are transporting the initial batch of formula because commercial flights were not available this weekend.

The flight was the first of several that provided “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the administration works on a longer-lasting response to the shortage, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said on Sunday.

Reese told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Sunday’s flight brought 15% of the specialized medical-grade formula needed in the US, and due to various government actions, people should see “more formula in stores starting this week. ”

Longer term, he said, the US needs more formula suppliers “so that no single company has as much control over supply chains.”

Under “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request support from the Department of Defense to collect infant formula abroad that meets U.S. health and safety standards. ., so it can hit store shelves faster. according to the USDA.

Alfamino is primarily available through hospitals and home health care companies that care for patients at home.

US regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to reopen its Michigan plant next week, but it will be about two months before the product is ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration this week relaxed import requirements for baby formula to try to ease supply shortages, which have left store shelves empty of some brands and some retailers rationing supplies for parents nervous about feeding. to his children.

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