RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, ANDREW CAIN
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, told MSNBC that there are many factors in the shortage, from parents hoarding formula early in the pandemic, to “ebbs and flows” in production, to supply chain issues and the February shutdown of a Michigan plant owned by Abbott Laboratories after bacteria resulted in the deaths of two babies.
(Abbott says that while there were four complaints of bacteria in infants who consumed formulas produced in the plant, it was a “common environmental bacteria” and that “there is no evidence to link our formulas to these infant illnesses.”)
As for the national shortage of baby formula, Spanberger said: “There were no ringing alarms along the way,” calling it “a major issue” that she wants to work on legislatively.
Spanberger said it is now important to cut through red tape and make sure the U.S. can import quality baby formula from overseas.
Later Friday, Spanberger released a letter she sent to Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert E. Ford, asking for answers about upgrades to the plant and the timetable for reopening.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture urged states “to take advantage of flexibilities the department is offering” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, “to help families get the safe formula they need.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement that his administration “remains engaged with industry leaders on their production capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Health is working to ensure that there are adequate supplies of baby formula” statewide.
He said his administration has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “to utilize all resources to get the U.S. plant back into production as quickly as possible.”
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined more than 30 Senate colleagues in writing Mardi Mountford, president of the Infant Nutrition Council of America, and urging “immediate action” to “ensure that infant formula manufacturers are making every effort to mitigate this dangerous shortage and get children the nourishment they need.”
Said Youngkin: “Simply put, acquiring baby formula shouldn’t be a challenge in the United States.”