Dear Secretary Becerra and Secretary Vilsack,
The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have taken significant action over the last several months to boost the production and availability of infant formula after the voluntary recall and subsequent shutdown of one of the largest infant formula production facilities in the country in February. This shutdown was needed to ensure the highest safety standards were being met but resulted in a decline in production of formula that American families rely on. Your departments have worked closely with manufacturers to help them increase formula production and availability, which resulted in more formula produced in April than before the recall. By working with States and retailers to create flexibilities around the types of formula WIC recipients can purchase, we are helping all families access the formula they need.
This week, the FDA reached an agreement with Abbott, the formula manufacturer whose product was pulled from shelves. This agreement will enable Abbott to restart production safely so more infant formula will be produced and distributed over the coming weeks and months. The FDA also announced an expedited process for manufacturers who do not normally sell infant formula in the United States to begin to sell it here safely and efficiently. This additional, high-quality formula should begin to hit shelves within weeks.
Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this ramped up production, therefore, I am requesting you take all appropriate measures available to get additional safe formula into the country immediately.
Specifically, I request that you work expeditiously to identify any and all avenues to speed the importation of safe infant formula into the United States and onto store shelves. I further request that over the next week you work with the Department of Defense to utilize contracted aircraft to accelerate the arrival of infant formula into the United States that meets our Government’s health and safety standards. This will ensure that we are using every available tool to get American families swifter access to the infant formula they need.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.