White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the US Food and Drug Administration is “working around the clock” to address the baby formula shortage, as manufacturers say they’re producing at full capacity and making as much formula as they can – but it’s still not enough to meet current demand.
“The FDA issued a recall to make sure that they’re meeting their obligation to protect the health of Americans – including babies who, of course, were receiving or taking this formula – and ensure safe products are available. That’s their job,” Psaki said.
“Ensuring the availability is also a priority for the FDA and they’re working around the clock to address any possible shortage,” she added.
Psaki said the FDA is taking “a number of steps” to address the issue, including working with major infant formula manufacturers to ensure their increasing production and working with the industry to optimize supply lines, product sizes and prioritizing product lines that are of greatest need.
“The FDA, it is not just their responsibility in their view to ensure that we’re meeting our obligations to protect Americans, it is also their obligation to take steps to make sure supply can be met when they take these steps,” Psaki said.
Psaki also said she didn’t believe there was national stockpile of baby formula when asked.
For months, stores nationwide have been struggling to stock enough baby formula. Manufacturers say they’re producing at full capacity and making as much formula as they can, but it’s still not enough to meet current demand.
The out-of-stock rate for baby formula hovered between 2% and 8% in the first half of 2021, but began rising sharply last July. Between November 2021 and early April 2022, the out-of-stock rate jumped to 31%, data from Datasembly showed.
That rate increased another 9 percentage points in just three weeks in April, and now stands at 40%, the statistics show. In six states – Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee – more than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the week starting April 24, Datasembly said.
The shortage has been exacerbated by the FDA’s shutdown of an Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan. Abbott is a major producer of baby formula.
In February, the FDA recalled three brands of powdered baby formulas made by the company due to potential bacterial infections, including Salmonella. The agency advised parents not to buy or use certain batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas, all Abbott brands.
CNN’s Parija Kavilanz and Ramishah Maruf contributed to this report.