House approves bills to tackle baby food shortage

Washington- The House of Representatives has passed two bills to shortage of baby food Wednesday night, as families across the country face bare planks.

One measure would allow recipients to purchase formula by giving the Secretary of Agriculture the permanent flexibility to waive certain requirements under the special supplemental feeding program for poor women, infants and children known as WIC, which regulates the brands and amounts of formula. restricts which WIC recipients may purchase. The bill would also require formula manufacturers to have contingency plans in place to protect against supply disruptions in the event of a recall. It was passed by a large two-party majority of 414 to 9.

All nine “no” votes were cast by Republicans: Representatives Andy Biggs, of Arizona; Lauren Boebert, of Colorado; Thomas Massie, of Kentucky; Brian Higgins, from New York; Matt Gaetz from Florida; Chip Roy, from Texas; Paul Gosar from Arizona; Louie Gohmert, from Texas and Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia.

A second measure to provide an additional $28 million to the Food and Drug Administration to get fraudulent formula products off store shelves and increase the proportion of staff who deal with formulas, as well as FDA inspection personnel, but with only 12 Republicans vote in favour.

Republicans said the plan didn’t force the FDA to come up with a plan to address the deficit immediately, nor did it force federal agencies to look for formulas that could be immediately forwarded to U.S. households or to harness the power of the federal government. to use to move formulas around. They also said the FDA already had enough money to deal with the crisis.

“The answer to the formula shortage is that the families need more formulas, and we need to get one of the largest domestic manufacturers of formulas safely back to work,” said Republican Representative Andy Harris, chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that sets the stage. FDA funds. “But this isn’t a money problem, it’s a leadership problem. It’s another example of this administration’s disdain for hard-working American families already struggling with record high gas prices, food prices and inflation reaching its 40-year high.”

Both bills, which now go to the Senate, are Congress’ first legislative step toward alleviating the baby food shortage since headlines about empty store shelves began to dominate the news earlier this month.

On Wednesday, Chairman Biden announced that he will appeal to the Defense Production Act to tackle the shortage of baby foodmeaning suppliers must give resources to infant formula factories before sending them to other customers.

Mr. Biden also announced a program called Operation Fly Formula, which will use Defense Department aircraft to retrieve foreign infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards.

Supply-chain problems arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the baby food shortage was exacerbated after a formula maker Abbott factory, the nation’s largest, was closed in February after FDA inspectors found a bacteria at its Michigan facility. had found. Abbott has issued a recall for formula products made at its factory in Sturgis, Michigan after four babies became ill with bacterial infections and two died.

A recent analysis by Datasembly, which tracks formula inventory in more than 11,000 stores, found that 43% of top-selling baby food products were out of stock at retailers nationwide as of the week ending May 8. five states, where more than half of the best-selling products were unavailable.

As part of its effort to ease the struggle for families across the country, the FDA announced Monday that it: reached an agreement with Abbott on the necessary steps to reopen the factory, with production expected to begin in about two weeks. Abbott said it will take between six and eight weeks for his products to hit store shelves.

The FDA is also taking steps to: simplify import rules for overseas manufacturers, allowing more formula products to enter the US market.

Kathryn Watson, Melissa Quinn and Caroline Linton contributed to this report.

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