Baby food crisis – US government under pressure

Baby food crisis – US government still under pressure

Released on 06.02.

  • Has declared the baby food shortages to be a top priority: Joe Biden. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP/dpa

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For weeks now, desperate parents looking for baby food in the USA have often found empty shelves. The shortage is causing increasing problems for the US government – when did President Biden know about the extent of the crisis?


Against the background of ongoing bottlenecks in infant formula, the government of US President Joe Biden is coming under increasing pressure because of its crisis management.

Biden said in a video call with infant formula manufacturers he had known the extent of the problem since early April – that would be weeks after the crisis began in February. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the entire administration had been working to manage the crisis from the start. However, in response to repeated questions, she was unable to clarify when Biden was informed about the crisis by his employees.

The background to the bottlenecks is the failure of a factory owned by Abbott, the largest manufacturer of infant formula in the USA. Abbott had on 06. February recalled several product lines after four infants became ill and two died, possibly due to bacterial contamination. Production at one of the company’s plants in the state of Michigan was temporarily halted in February.

“A very serious matter”

At the video link, Biden asked a manager at the Reckitt infant formula company if he was aware of the consequences of the closure of the important plant of the competitor Abbott was surprised. Manager Robert Cleveland replied, “We knew from the start that this was going to be a very serious matter.” Biden announced on Wednesday that his government would fly in more baby formula from abroad.

Desperate parents have been searching for weeks for infant formula, which is out of stock in many stores. Biden said, “There’s nothing more distressing than feeling like you’re not getting what your kid needs.” He instructed his government to “use all available means to increase supply”. Baby food must be on the supermarket shelves as soon as possible.

Biden has made shortages a top priority and activated a wartime law last month to boost production. In addition, Biden had launched “Operation Fly Formula” (roughly: “Operation Baby Food Fly”) to bring supplies from abroad to the United States.

Biden on Wednesday announced flights from London and Melbourne to bring baby formula from Kendamil (UK) and Bubs (Australia) to various locations in the US. In May, Biden’s government had already arranged for two flights with baby food over the US Ramstein Air Force base in Rhineland-Palatinate. (dpa)

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