Military plane carrying 39 tons of baby food arrives in US

Indianapolis Enough specialty infant formulas for more than half a million baby bottles arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, the first of several flights of infant formula out of Europe expected to ease the growing shortage in the US this weekend

The formula, weighing 78,000 pounds or 39 tons, was transported by military plane, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Biden flew from South Korea to Japan. .

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to greet the arrival of the first shipment in Indianapolis.

The Biden administration – which has struggled to national shortage of formula, especially hypoallergenic varieties — has dubbed the effort “Operation Fly Formula.” The crisis follows the closure of the country’s largest domestic factory in Michigan in February due to security concerns.

“Normally, the process of transporting this product from Europe to the US would take two weeks. Thanks to Operation Fly Formula, we have reduced that to about three days,” said Jean-Pierre. “This is a testament to the President’s dedication to pulling every lever to bring more infant formula to market. And Operation Fly Formula is a tool we use to do this.”

The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula would depart from Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the US. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were to arrive in the coming days. In total, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergies, are expected this week. The flights were authorized by Mr Biden.

US military helps import baby food to the US
US pilots load pallets of baby food for the US at the US Air Force Base Ramstein on May 21, 2022 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany.

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Indianapolis was chosen because it is a Nestlé distribution center. The formula will be unloaded into FedEx trailers and taken to a Nestlé distribution center about a mile away, where the company will perform a standard quality check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices, an official on site said. †

Air Force planes carried the first batch of formula because no commercial flights were available this weekend.

The flight was the first of several to provide “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works towards a more sustainable response to the deficit, Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said Sunday.

Reese told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Sunday’s flight brought 15% of the special medical formula needed into the US, and due to various government actions, people should “see more formula in stores starting as early as this week.” .”

In the longer term, he said, the U.S. needs more formula providers “so that no individual company has as much control over supply chains.”

Under “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request support from the Department of Defense to retrieve foreign infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards so that it can can go to the store. shelves faster, according to the USDA.

Alfamino is mainly available through hospitals and home care companies that serve patients at home.

U.S. regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to reopen the Michigan plant next week, but it will take about two months for the product to be ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration eased import requirements for baby food this week to try to alleviate inventory shortages, which have left some brands empty on store shelves and some retailers rationing supply for parents nervous about feeding their children.

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