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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
At a recent “Coffee with your Congresswoman” event at the Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tennessee, U.S. Representative Diana Harshbarger (R- District 1) stated the Food and Drug Administration knew about the potential for a shortage of baby formula as far back as November of 2021.
In her talk with attendees of the event, Harshbarger stated that almost half of the nation’s baby formula is out of stock because one facility, Abbott, makes 40% of the nation’s supply.
Harshbarger said, “It’s a travesty when you don’t plan ahead and you have one company that makes 40% of anything. If they (the FDA) knew it back in November, why didn’t they have a strategic backup plan to get this formula from Europe? … Our government is very reactive. They are never proactive in anything, and that’s what I hate.”
Tennessee is one of the states that sold out of more than half of the regular supply of baby formula by the week of April 24th.
However, Harshbarger did state that the White House has made a deal with Abbott to reopen the closed plant within the next few weeks.
Abbott’s largest U.S. plant was shut down in February for a health and safety investigation after recalling several of their powdered formula brands over concerns that the products were tainted with a bacteria.
Although the reopening will help, it will likely be six to eight weeks before any formula from that plant hits the shelves.
Meanwhile, the formula shortage has left at least two children hospitalized due to the special formulas the infants require not being available in stores.
“We’re supporting them with IV fluids and IV nutrition, which is not ideal…this is frustrating because we know that there’s a better way,” Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis stated.
Supply chain issues were already causing shortages across the county before Abbott was forced to shut down.
While Abbott has increased production in other facilities, there is still not enough formula to go around. Families are seeking out various means of assistance in providing for their babies, but many of the organizations who typically provide help are also struggling as well.
Melissa Barnett, program coordination for Helping Manas Knoxville, works with the non-profit to provide necessary baby items to families. Her group had just restocked their shelves when the formula recall hit in February.
Barnett says that finding formula to supply her clients is a weekly struggle.
The Food and Drug Administration says they are tracking the supplies of formula and are delivering it to the areas that currently show the highest need. They are also increasing the number of operating hours that formula manufacturers can work and allowing for the importing of baby formula.
“What they’re trying to do is increase supply by working with a range of manufacturers and what their capacity is to ensure that the kind of formula that was recalled where they’re able to help ensure it’s on the shelves,” stated White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.