Biden’s Baby Formula Shortage – WSJ


Eric Gay / Associated Press

Some lawmakers are questioning whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has done enough to combat the nationwide shortage of infant formula. An even better question is why the Biden FDA caused it.

In the name of safety, the federal bureaucracy turned a supply chain challenge into a full-blown crisis. There’s little more to fear than being a new parent and knowing that your newborn isn’t thriving. For any number of reasons, some young children need infant formula, and currently the United States does not have enough. In this era, it is sad that we see empty store shelves in the market that was once occupied by many different items. But this is not just any other product.

Like many other commodities in the age of embargo and Covid regulations, infant formula is subject to supply constraints. But there is one particular event that has created the current crisis. On February 17 of this year, the FDA announced:

Today, the US Food and Drug Administration announced it is investigating consumer complaints about Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport infection. All reported cases of consuming infant formula produced from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility. As a result of an ongoing investigation, along with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local partners, the FDA is warning consumers to avoid purchasing or using certain dairy products. Baby powder is manufactured in this facility. This is an ongoing investigation and the company is working with the FDA to initiate a voluntary recall of the potentially affected product.

Since then, while the plant has remained idle, many Washington officials have continued to insist on calling it a “voluntary recall.” But what choice did the manufacturer have after the FDA investigated and decided to warn consumers against buying the product?

White House economist Brian Deese appeared to have given up on the game during an appearance Friday morning on CNN. Here is part of a transcript of the network that Mr. Deese was interviewed by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins:

COLLINS: And I believe the first complaints about this establishment happened last fall. I don’t think the FDA started interviewing whistleblowers until December or so. Of course, as you noted, the recall started earlier this year. And so I’m wondering if there’s a sense inside the White House that the FDA has moved fast enough on this issue?

DEESE: Well, those are independent scientific reviews that I’ll leave to the FDA. What I can tell you is that they took action to make that recall. And we’ve been working closely on this, after that recall, to try to address the associated impacts of that.

Sorry, Who put in the position that withdraw? And more importantly, why Did they issue a recall because of the risk of parents leaving without formula? Finding a common bacterium somewhere in a plant doesn’t mean that babies are ever at any risk. And what about the risk of no formula when a major producer of a highly regulated product is shut down for months?

To this day, while Abbott’s factory remains dormant and awaiting FDA’s blessing to resume production — and while parents desperately seek formula — the White House remains open. confused about what exactly the FDA found in Michigan and who exactly initiated that “voluntary” recall.

At Thursday’s press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated “the problem here is that a manufacturer has been taken offline because they don’t make baby-safe formula.” Ms. Psaki added:

This problem is because there is an unsafe product that the FDA has recalled to save the lives of babies.

That doesn’t seem right. The Journal’s Joseph Walker reports:

In recent weeks, Abbott has strongly denied that the cronobacter infection was caused by contamination at its plant, even though the company and FDA inspectors found the bacteria present there. The company said where inspectors found traces of the bacteria, these areas were not exposed to formula products.

Food safety experts say Cronobacter is commonly found in the environment and has been found on refrigerators, sinks and countertops.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention performed genetic testing on formula samples from two of the sick infants and found them to be inconsistent with strains of cronobacter bacteria detected in the home. Abbott’s machine. “It’s possible that the cases in this investigation occurred because the formula was contaminated after opening the can, which is how cronobacter typically gets into powdered formula,” a CDC spokesperson told the Journal in April.

Abbott said Wednesday that all finished products made at the Michigan plant have tested negative for cronobacter.

Abbott said open containers from four infants were tested, and three of them were negative. One container tested positive for two strains of cronobacter bacteria, one of which was consistent with the strain causing the infection in infants and the other for the strain found on a bottle of distilled water used to make formula recipe. The company said none of the strains matched the strains found at Abbott’s factory in Michigan.

“After a thorough review of all available data, there is no evidence to link our formulation to these infant illnesses,” Abbott said.

However, every time this issue pops up in the news cycle, all the Biden Team and their allies on Capitol Hill do is call for more investigation into the business practices. Now, the president wants the Federal Trade Commission to look for evidence of price manipulation, and House Democrats want testimony from formula manufacturers. How about investigating the FDA and to those who might be making formula for hungry babies?

On Tuesday, this column noted the work of Gabriella Beaumont-Smith of the Cato Institute describing important government barriers to the import of infant formula. The FDA has also erected major regulatory hurdles for any new potential competitors in the country, so for now parents and babies will have to rely heavily on existing manufacturers. to end the shortage. Thank goodness the men and women of private American businesses aren’t moving at FDA’s pace but are instead running factories around the clock to end shortages.

Some products come from abroad, but US red tape prevents the necessary supply. Derek Thompson of Atlantic writes:

FDA regulation of formula is so strict that most products from Europe purchased here are illegal due to technical requirements such as labeling requirements. However, one study found that many European formulas meet the FDA’s nutritional guidelines — and in some ways, may even be better than American formulas, because the Union The European Union bans some sugars, such as corn syrup, and requires formulas to have a higher percentage of lactose.

Some parents who don’t care about FDA labels have tried to circumvent the regulations by ordering formula from Europe through third-party suppliers. But US customs agents have been known to seize shipments at the border.

Perhaps now the White House will treat them as voluntary arrests. But parents won’t have to do so long if the government allows for the abundance that manufacturers are willing to provide.


James Freeman is co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China, and America’s Resurgence”.


Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

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