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The Biden administration knew about the baby formula shortage as early as February, the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday morning.
Deese said the administration is working around the clock to tackle the issue from every angle possible, noting the administration is trying to give retailers “more flexibility on the types of formulas that they can sell.” Deese did not provide an estimate of how long the administration anticipates the shortage will last, but urged families to call their healthcare provider if they need help.
Host Kaitlan Collins then asked Deese what his response to Republican criticism that the administration didn’t act fast enough is.
“The administration has been on this from the get-go. A lot of this emanated from a plant in Michigan that was producing formula that didn’t meet safety standards,” Deese said.
Collins then asked when the administration first became aware of the shortage.
“As a parent, and with friends and colleagues, we were aware that people were starting to have trouble in stores, but we were aware of this from when the FDA had to take its action back in February, with Abbott and with the steps in the Michigan facility. And we have had a team on this from the FDA and in the interagency process since then,” Deese said.
Collins noted how several complaints were made to the FDA in the preceding months.
“So I’m wondering if the sense inside the White House is that the FDA moved quickly enough on this issue?” Collins asked. (RELATED: Lawmaker Says Migrants Are Getting ‘Pallets’ Of Baby Formula Amid Nationwide Shortage)
“Well, those are independent scientific judgments that I will leave to the FDA. What I can tell you is that they took action to put in place that recall, and we have been working closely on this issue, in the wake of that recall, to try to address the impending impacts of that.”
Deese added that “all options are on the table,” and the administration is focused on how they can ramp up production and get more formula to retailers quickly. Deese said the administration was also looking into possibly importing formula.
President Joe Biden spoke with formula manufacturers Reckitt and Gerber on Thursday who have stepped up production after Abbott recalled powdered formula and subsequently closed its manufacturing facility in Michigan. Reckitt is supplying over 30% more product this year, according to a White House fact sheet.
As of April 24, 40% of the top baby formula products at American retailers were out of stock, according to CBS News. Retailers have begun rationing the amount of formula customers can buy at one time while the average price of formula has jumped 18% over the last year.