The temporary move to allow imports will put more clues on store shelves in a few weeks, officials say.
The United States will temporarily allow the importation of baby formula from foreign producers in an effort to reduce the impact of the ongoing nationwide deficit, which is putting pressure on American families.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the decision Monday, adding that new products must comply with U.S. safety and nutrition regulations provided by the FDA, but noted that the review process will be streamlined. It is easy for foreign manufacturers to start shipping formulas in the US.
“We are hopeful that the global market will respond to this call and that international businesses will take the opportunity to help increase product supply,” he said. FDA Commissioner Robert Calif said in a statement.
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre confirmed the move at a press briefing Monday, adding that the administration is also working to provide transportation and logistical support to key formula manufacturers and retailers.
“We’re also in ongoing contact, because we’re talking about retailers here, targeting and identifying parts of the country for infant formula with Amazon and Walmart and other leading retailers that may be at risk of severely under-supplying infant formula, and U.S. government transportation.” And offers to work with manufacturers and retailers to bring more formulas to those parts of the country with logistical support. “ Dr. Jean-Pierre.
Already existing supply chain problems caused by the Covid-19 epidemic have led to a nationwide shortage of infant formulas since February due to the withdrawal of a major product by Abbott Laboratories, one of the country’s leading formula makers.
The FDA was investigating the manufacturer after receiving complaints that four children had fallen ill from Abbott’s products. The investigation found evidence of bacterial contamination at Abbott’s largest production facility in Sturges, Michigan, and instructed the plant to suspend operations pending further investigation.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with Abbott to address safety issues at the plant and that after updating its safety protocols, the facility would be able to resume production within two weeks, unless approved by the FDA.
However, neither the import of foreign sources nor the reintroduction of Abbott’s Sturgis facility is expected to have an immediate effect on the limited supply that puts pressure on American families. Even if the FDA gives Abbott the green light to resume internal production of the formula within two weeks, it will take another 8 to 10 weeks for the products to hit store shelves, Abbott Laboratories said.
And although baby formulas produced in Canada and Europe are largely equivalent to those of the United States, companies seeking to enter the U.S. market still face several major hurdles, including extensive research and product quality inspection imposed by the FDA, which may mean that, according to experts, The integration process can take up to several months.
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