As mothers plead their desperation and display “fear in their eyes” with baby formula shortages driving prices over $100 per can on auction sites, the White House shifted blame to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and suggested there may not have been an emergency plan in place for such scarcity.
During Monday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the shortages of formula that have driven retailers to impose purchase limits. As previously reported, near the end of April some retailers had seen 40 percent or more of their top formulas out of stock and recalls have exacerbated the issue.
“Well, let me first say, as you know, but – the FDA issued a recall to ensure that they are meeting their obligation to protect the health of Americans, including babies – who, of course, were receiving – or taking this formula – and ensure safe products are available. That’s their job,” Psaki said. “Ensuring the availability of these products is also a priority for the FDA, and they are working around the clock to address any possible shortage.”
According to The New York Times, the online auction site eBay had listings for as much as $120 for one can of formula, and that doesn’t account for the specific nutritional needs of some children. Wynter Balthrop, a Tennessee mother of eight-month-old Blakely, told Fox News about her experience driving to “six different stores” and calling “others as far as three hours away” but still being unable “to find one can or bottle of her formula.”
“I broke down in the car. I [was] panicking and sad for my girl because we had enough formula left to make one bottle,” she said, “and I knew we would have to use the generic formula that hurt her stomach again. And that broke my heart.”
“I’ve seen the fear in their eyes [over] the empty shelves at stores, praying that they find [formula] at the next store they go to,” Balthrop described and added, “It’s sad that in today’s world, this is an issue we are having. My heart breaks for all the mamas out there suffering and panicked from this shortage.”
“We are now grabbing every can or ready-to-feed bottle we see while also trying not to be greedy and leave some for others,” she noted.
“This has GOT to be addressed,” mother of two Kayla Zurenko posted on Facebook. The shortages have left her “enough formula for 14 more days” to feed her babies and “it has become a full time job…searching daily for formula” as she has resorted to searching the tristate area.
“Okay, so what the FDA is doing – which, while they are independent, they are part of the administration – is taking a number of steps to address,” Psaki claimed. “That includes working with major infant formula manufacturers to ensure they’re increasing production, because part of this issue is, of course, making sure there is stock on the shelves – right? – and working with the industry right now to optimize their supply lines, product sizes to increase capacity, and prioritizing product lines that are of the greatest needs.”
“So what they’re trying to do – in the shorthand of it – is increase supply by working with a range of manufacturers in what their capacity is to ensure that the kinds of formula that is – was recalled is – where they’re able to help ensure it’s on the – on the shelves,” she went on.
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With this crisis continuing to grow, Psaki went on to say she was unaware of any emergency contingency that could have addressed the matter sooner, “I don’t believe there’s a national stockpile of baby formula. But the FDA does – it is not just their responsibility, in their view, to ensure that we are meeting our obligations to protect Americans. It is also their obligation to take steps to ensure supply can be met when they take these steps. So that is what they’re very focused on.”
“Inflation, supply chain shortages, and product recalls have brought an unprecedented amount of volatility for baby formula,” said Datasembly founder and CEO Ben Reich. “We expect to continue to see the baby formula category being dramatically affected by these conditions. Baby formula stock, which has been one of the more affected categories so far in 2022, and one that will continue to demonstrate higher than average out-of-stock levels.”
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