A Riverside County lawmaker said dwindling supplies of baby formula throughout the nation posed complications that could be "life-threatening'' for newborns, urging the Biden administration to double up efforts to solve the worsening shortage.
"Each day, this crisis grows worse,'' Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Temecula, said. "And more mothers grow fearful of how they will provide the next meal to their children. Of the Biden Administration's many failures, none is more in need of attention today than the nation's current and life-threatening shortage of infant formula.
"I call on this White House to immediately convene an 'Infant Formula Emergency Meeting' with all relevant federal regulators, state leaders, formula manufacturers and supply chain stakeholders to develop immediate solutions and eliminate a formula shortfall that threatens the most vulnerable in our society,'' the congressman said.
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On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a statement pointing to strategies for addressing the severe deficit, with plans for brainstorming sessions with formula manufacturers, who are regulated by the agency.
"We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it,'' FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that expeditiously moving product to the shelves is "a priority for the FDA, and they're working around the clock to address any possible shortage.''
The deepening under-supply of infant formula, which consists of milk, hydrolyzed proteins and irons, began earlier this year and has been blamed on multiple factors, including product recalls over health safety concerns, rationing by some vendors and supply chain, or shipping, disruptions.
Formulas come in different packages -- powdered, pre-made and liquid mixed. They're generally available via online retailers, pharmacies and brick-and-mortar stores. According to the Mayo Clinic and other sources, they're vital to a tot's development, when breast milk isn't available, up to about one year of age.
Issa said that regulators should pull out the stops to "increase domestic formula production and, if needed, speed approved shipments from overseas.''
"Federal officials must ... remove any barrier or bottleneck that slows or delays shipments to parents and their children,'' the congressman said. "If we require escorts of delivery trucks from plants to stores, let it be done. If the FDA requires a 24-hour work schedule to clear regulatory hurdles to restarting production, let it be done as well. Our families cannot
wait any longer.''