WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – US President Joe Biden is under pressure due to dramatic baby food bottlenecks and is resorting to unusual measures. Biden chose to use the Defense Production Act, originally introduced during the war, to increase milk powder production, the White House said. In particular, the US president has ordered infant formula manufacturers to supply essential ingredients through suppliers, not other customers. There has been a shortage of powdered milk in the US for weeks. Some Republicans are using the crisis to fuel anti-immigration sentiment.
The background of the bottleneck is the failure of the Abbott factory, the largest manufacturer of baby food in the US. The manufacturer recalled several product lines after four infants became ill and two died, possibly from bacterial contamination. Production at one of the company’s Michigan plants has stopped completely for the time being.
The “Defense Production Act” now allows the US President to intervene in the private sector in the interests of national security. During the corona pandemic, the regulation was recently used to force companies to increase the production of medical devices and face masks.
In addition, to speed up the import of powdered infant formula, Biden has now instructed that Department of Defense planes could be used to import infant formula from overseas into the United States, the White House said. As at the start of the crown pandemic, the Pentagon will use its contracts with commercial air carriers to ship products from overseas manufacturing facilities. Avoiding regular air freight routes can save you a lot of time.
The US government only announced on Monday that it would allow larger imports of powdered infant milk due to bottlenecks. Meanwhile, Swiss food company Nestlé has expanded its baby food shipments to the US. A spokeswoman at the company’s headquarters in Vevey on Lake Geneva said it had initially supplied larger quantities of brands that were particularly suitable for babies allergic to cow’s milk. On the one hand, orders were shipped earlier than planned, on the other hand, baby food was also delivered by plane. Further additional deliveries would be considered.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has dismissed Republican criticism that the US government will prioritize the distribution of leftover baby powder to immigrants on the US southern border. Some Republicans have been spreading this recently without any evidence. “The link between fulfilling our humanitarian and legal obligations to these children and the problem of home supply in the United States is flawed and disgusting,” Mayorkas said earlier this week.
For example, influential Republican governor of the US state of Texas, Greg Abbott, recently said that Biden turned a blind eye to parents in the United States “who are facing the nightmare of a nationwide shortage of baby food.” “While mums and dads panic at empty shelves in grocery stores, the Biden administration is delighted to provide infant formula to illegal immigrants crossing our southern border,” Governor Abbott said in a joint statement with the president of the border guard union. Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas went on to explain that the US government obviously also cares about the basic needs of migrants.
The US Food and Drug Administration has warned against making baby food at home due to a bottleneck. It is important that baby food is produced only by experienced plants. They also agreed with Abbott on various precautions, according to the FDA, to reopen the affected factory. However, the company said it would take weeks to start production again and that baby food could be delivered to retailers./jac/oe/nau/DP/ngu