Amid Ongoing Shortages, Spanberger Pressures House Lawmakers to Hold Public Hearing with Baby Formula Manufacturers on Efforts to Boost Supply

In July of This Year, 30 Percent of Powdered Formula in the United States Remained Out of Stock

HENRICO, V.A. — Amid ongoing shortages in Virginia and across the country, U.S. Representative Spanberger today pressed U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee leadership to hold an additional hearing regarding the ongoing nationwide baby formula shortage.

Months since Congress passed legislation into law to make baby formula more accessible to Americans and the White House took steps to boost supply, Virginia parents are still struggling to find formula. According to recent data, the nationwide out-of-stock rate for powdered baby formula was 30 percent for the week of July 24. During that week, 20 percent of all types of formula remained out of stock.

“Parents across the country are still struggling to find baby formula in their grocery stores – and we must remain steadfast in our efforts to alleviate the shortage and provide robust Congressional oversight of the industry and regulators,” said Spanberger in a letter to the Committee’s leaders. “While we appreciate the work your Committee has already undertaken to address these shortages, until stocks of formulas return to acceptable levels, Congress has a responsibility to do more to tackle this crisis.”

Spanberger continued, “Accordingly, I respectfully urge you to hold another hearing on this topic and invite FDA Commissioner Califf and the baby formula manufacturing CEOs to provide an update on their efforts to boost the supply of baby formula in the United States amid the sustained shortage.”

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Chair Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers:

I write to you today to request the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hold another hearing on the ongoing baby formula shortage. Parents across the country are still struggling to find baby formula in their grocery stores – and we must remain steadfast in our efforts to alleviate the shortage and provide robust Congressional oversight of the industry and regulators.

On May 25, 2022 the Committee held a hearing on “Formula Safety and Supply: Protecting the Health of America’s Babies” to address reporting that the nationwide out-of-stock rate for baby formula was 43%. Members of Congress and the American people had the opportunity to hear directly from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Califf and senior executives of the major baby formula manufacturers about the factors contributing to the empty shelves seen across the nation. Since the hearing, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed into law legislation to alleviate the shortage.

However, recent data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI) found that the out-of-stock rate for all types of baby formula was 20% for the week ending July 24. Specifically, 30% of powdered baby formula remained out of stock for this week.  This is despite gradual increased production of baby formula following Congressional action, imports from abroad, and the reopening of the Abbott plant. While we appreciate the work your Committee has already undertaken to address these shortages, until stocks of formulas return to acceptable levels, Congress has a responsibility to do more to tackle this crisis.

Parents are still struggling to find formula for their babies – and we must do everything we can to understand and address the remaining production and supply chain challenges putting pressure on families trying to feed their children. Accordingly, I respectfully urge you to hold another hearing on this topic and invite FDA Commissioner Califf and the baby formula manufacturing CEOs to provide an update on their efforts to boost the supply of baby formula in the United States amid the sustained shortage.

Thank you for your continued attention to this important issue and consideration of my request.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has been focused on responding to the concerns of Virginia parents and families during this formula shortage — and she has called for immediate action to combat the crisis from both the administration and private companies.

In June 2022, Spanberger helped lead the introduction of bipartisan legislation to prevent future baby formula shortages and increase transparency within the formula industry.

After being pressed by Spanberger to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) in response to the shortage, the White House announced that it would invoke the DPA to ensure baby formula ingredients can be expeditiously sent to U.S. manufacturers. In May, Spanberger directly pressed White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to strongly consider implementing the DPA in response to the ongoing formula shortage.

Spanberger also urged the White House to consider a range of additional steps to address the shortage — including cutting red tape and increasing imports of safe baby formula from abroad. Soon after, the FDA announced that it would reduce restrictions on formula imports.

Additionally, Spanberger pressed baby formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories earlier this year to provide answers about the company’s efforts to increase production of formula following the voluntary recall of several powder formulas and closure of Abbott’s largest formula manufacturing facility in the United States. Abbott is the leading supplier of baby formula in the United States.

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