Shortage of baby formula fuels misleading partisan claims – FactCheck.org

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There is a shortage of infant formula Misleading partisan allegations raised suggest President Joe Biden Responsible for “bare shelves”. But the shortage was caused by a summons The factory closed before A major manufacturer and ongoing supply chain issues due to the pandemic.

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Baby formula has become increasingly unavailable in the United States over the past 10 months, reaching an out-of-stock rate of 43% for the week ending May 8, according to data compiled by Datasembly.

That rate remained below 10% from the start of 2021 through July, and rose sharply after a February product recall by Abbott Nutrition, according to the data.

Although the problem has been festering for some time, it became politicized last week, prompting President Joe Biden to launch a plan on May 12 for what his administration would do to address the shortfall.

That plan includes relaxing regulations around formula production, cracking down on price gouging and importing more formula.

The shortage in the United States has been largely driven by the withdrawal of Abbott Nutrition, the major milk maker, and ongoing supply chain issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to experts.

But several prominent conservatives have pointed out that Biden is to blame for the shortfall.

For example, Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, shared a Fox Business story about the shortage that showed a picture of shelves sparsely filled with baby formula and added the message: “Biden’s bare shelves.” The Fox Business story itself cited two other issues, saying, “The infant formula shortage began with ongoing supply chain problems but has escalated in recent weeks due to recalls by Abbott Laboratories.”

The House Republican Convention shared a similar image from a live clip from Fox News, adding:Welcome to Joe Biden’s America.”

Supporters with a large following on social media, such as David Harris Jr., also bet, referring to the shortage and calling the Biden administration “utterly criminal.”

But one politician or one administration does not cause the shortage. We will explain here what led to the current situation.

List the following infant diseases and deaths

Between September and January, four children fell ill with Chronobacter, a bacterial infection, and two of them died. The Food and Drug Administration is still investigating.

The children reportedly consumed powdered infant formula from the Abbott Sturgis, Michigan facility.

On February 17, Abbott voluntarily recalled their powder formulations. Abbott contracts with the majority of state programs for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, and is the largest purchaser of infant formula in the United States, according to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Another USDA report from the same year found that the market for highly concentrated formulations was dominated by three manufacturers, with Abbott holding the largest market share, at 43%.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now agreed to allow Abbott to release some products for those who need an “urgent, life-sustaining supply of certain specialized and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis.” In a May 11 statement, Abbott said its Sturgis facility could be operational within two weeks with FDA approval.

Strict regulations on infant formula

“Since the closure of Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis facility… the remaining infant formula manufacturers have struggled to rapidly increase production because their operations were planned and designed to produce a consistent level of product based on pre-production expectations of consumer demand,” said Kevin Lyons, a professor at Rutgers College. For business he has experience in supply chain management, told FactCheck.org in an email.

He explained that in other industries, manufacturers can adjust their production based on consumer demand, but infant formula manufacturers cannot do so because their expectations and the raw materials they need for production must be planned well in advance.

Also, Kaitlin Wowak, a professor at the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame, pointed out in an email to us that infant formula is tightly controlled by the FDA.

Because of that, “no company can just start producing infant formula in the short term,” she said. When we needed more [personal protective equipment]Any company that produces related products can quickly centralize its operations and start producing masks or other PPE, but this is not the case with infant formula because the regulations regarding infant formula are tighter.”

The strict regulations regarding the production of formula milk are designed to protect consumers – in this case, children. The Infant Formula Act of 1980 was enacted because “a major manufacturer” in 1978 made a change to its formula that “resulted in infant formula products containing an insufficient amount of chloride, a nutrient essential to infant growth and development,” according to the FDA. Food and Drugs.

Epidemiological supply chain challenges

Lyons and Wowak also cited supply chain constraints due to the pandemic as a contributing factor to the current shortage of formula.

Lyons said supply chain problems include shortages of raw materials and labor, as well as suppliers and consumers making panic buying.

Grays Soši, Professor at The University of Southern California Marshall School of Business told us in an email, “at the moment, [the] The pandemic has caused major problems in a number of supply chains, baby formulas among them, so we are seeing unusual shortages or delays in many items.”

She also noted that the situation likely escalated after Abbott’s recall due to the company’s role as an exclusive supplier to more than half of WIC’s agencies.

So, the current infant formula shortage is due to a recall from a company that handles a large market share, combined with ongoing supply chain issues.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations Working with Facebook To expose misinformation being shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


data collection. press release. Stocks are out nationwide now at 43% for the week ending May 8. May 10, 2022.

White House. press release. “Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces Additional Steps to Address Infant Milk Shortage.” May 12, 2022.

US Food and Drug Administration. “Abbott voluntarily orders powder formulations manufactured in one plant.” February 17, 2022.

Dumas, Brick. “Baby milk shortages are reaching ‘crisis’ level, sparking panic among parents across the United States.” Fox Business. Updated May 10, 2022.

US Food and Drug Administration. “Food and Drug Administration investigation into Cronobacter infections: dried infant formula (February 2022).” Updated May 11, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Investigation of Desiccated Infant Formula and Chronobacter.” Updated May 12, 2022.

WIC National Association. “WIC Providers Respond to Abbott’s Infant Formula Withdrawal.” February 23, 2022.

Oliveira, Victor. US Department of Agriculture. “Winner Takes (Almost) All: How WIC Impacts the Children’s Formula Market.” September 1, 2011.

US Food and Drug Administration. “FDA is taking important steps to improve supply of infant products and special formulas. May 10, 2022.”

Abbott. press release. “Abbott Provides Infant Formula Update.” May 11, 2022.

Lyons, Kevin. Professor, Rutgers School of Business. Submit to FactCheck.org. May 11, 2022.

Wowak, Kaitlyn. Professor at the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Email to FactCheck.org May 12, 2022.

US Food and Drug Administration. “Questions and answers for consumers regarding infant formula.” Updated March 7, 2018.

HR6940. An Act to Amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to enhance the authority under this Act to ensure the safety and nutrition of infant formulas, and for other purposes. It was enacted on September 26, 1980.

Susich, Grays. Professor, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Submit to FactCheck.org. May 11, 2022.

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