White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Sunday that there’s currently no timeline for when parents can expect to see baby formula return to store shelves after President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) last week to address the nationwide shortage.
During a press gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to Tokyo, where Biden will participate in a meeting with the “Quad” alliance, Jean-Pierre was asked by a reporter when parents in the U.S. “who are trying to get baby formula” will be able to find some.
“Look, you know, the President — you know, you’ve heard us say this: The President understands the struggle of moms and dads and parents and caregivers and making sure that — you know, making sure that we get — a child has, you know, a healthy — a healthy — a healthy way of eating,” Jean-Pierre responded, according to a White House transcript. “A healthy formula is — and safe — and safe formula — is our number one priority, which is why we’re — you know, which is why we have been very, very acutely aware of — of the process that we’ve initiated with the flyover and also the DPA.
“I don’t have a timeline for you yet,” she continued. “We want to exp- — you know, make sure it goes very quickly, because it’s so critical. And we know what — what families are going through. I — but I don’t have an exact timeline. Clear- — clearly, we want this to happen as fast as possible, as quickly as possible.”
BIDEN INVOKES DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT, ‘OPERATION FLY FORMULA’ TO ADDRESS SHORTAGE
Jean-Pierre’s response comes amid a massive nationwide baby formula shortage that has landed several babies in the hospital after Abbott Laboratories announced a Similac recall earlier this year.
According to the retail pricing data website Datasembly, the share of baby formula out of stock across the U.S. hit 43 percent the week ending May 8, leaving many parents across the country desperate to find food for their babies.
On Wednesday, Biden announced he was invoking the DPA to address the shortage, which allows him to mandate that manufacturers ramp up production, as well as launching a new program, “Operation Fly Formula,” to speed up the import of infant formula.
Jean-Pierre said Sunday that as part of the new program, a military plane carrying 78,000 pounds of specialty infant formula, “enough for over half a million bottles,” will arrive in Indiana Sunday.
“This formula was manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and will be inspected on arrival like all food imports,” she said. “We prioritize this for the first shipment because this formula types — type serves a critical medical purpose and is in short supply in the United States as the result of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure.”
“Typically, the process to transport this product from Europe to U.S. would take two weeks,” she said. “Thanks to Operation Fly Formula, we cut that down to approximately three days.”