Providing some respite for parents until American formula units hit the shelves once again, the Biden administration has secured 78,000 lbs of infant formula from Europe.
More than half a million baby bottles arrived on Sunday in Indianapolis via a special military plane- the first of several flights expected from Europe. President Joe Biden authorized the use of Air Force planes for the effort, dubbed Operation Fly Formula because no commercial flights were available.
The formula weighed 78,000 pounds, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew from South Korea to Japan. The flights are intended to provide some incremental relief in the coming days as the government works on a more lasting response to the shortage, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Sunday.
As it stands, Sunday’s flight brought 15 percent of the specialty medical grade formula needed in the US, and because of various actions by the government, people should see more formula in stores starting as early as this week.
The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula was to leave Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the US. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were expected to arrive in the coming days. Altogether, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergies, are expected to arrive this week.
Indianapolis was chosen because it is a Nestle distribution hub. The formula will be offloaded into FedEx semi tractor-trailers and taken to a Nestle distribution center about a mile away where the company will do a standard quality control check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices, according to an administration official on-site.
Meanwhile, US regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to have its Michigan plant reopened next week, but it will take about two months before the product is ready for delivery.