Operation Fly Formula is projected to import the equivalent of 17 million 8-ounce bottles of infant formula by the end of June.
On Wednesday, the White House announced the 10th mission of Operation Fly Formula, the Biden administration's program to import infant formula to combat ongoing shortages in the United States.
The White House said in a statement that the shipment by truck of Gerber formula from Mexico to Fort Worth, Texas, organized by the Department of Health and Human Services would begin on June 24: "This delivery will include approximately 1 million pounds of Gerber Good Start Gentle infant formula, the equivalent of approximately 16 million 8-ounce bottles."
HHS noted that a total of 13 flights under the Operation Fly Formula program have been scheduled for the week of June 20. The agency forecast that by June 26 the operation will have completed 32 flights and imported the equivalent of 17 million 8-ounce bottles of formula.
On Monday, a Delta Airlines flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Boston Logan International Airport delivered Kendamil formula that will be made available to retailers across the country.
CNN reported on June 10 that, according to neonatologist Dr. Steve Abrams, former chair of the American Association of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, Operation Fly Formula will "make a noticeable difference" in the availability of formula for American families, adding, "When these formulas hit the stores, I think you're going to see a lot of easing up on hoarding and stressing. I think that there's going to be this big hurrah when people can go to Target and see formula again. So that effect may exceed the volume amount."
A shortage of infant formula across the United States began after formula distributed by Abbott Nutrition was recalled after babies who had consumed the products developed bacterial infections. Four infants were hospitalized and two subsequently died. Abbott's facility in Sturgis, Michigan, the largest formula manufacturing plant in America, was subsequently closed down, and Abbott entered into a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration under which it agreed to remedy violations discovered by the agency as a condition for reopening the facility.
On May 18, President Joe Biden announced the launch of Operation Fly Formula, directing HHS to work in concert with the departments of Agriculture and Defense to use commercial aircraft to import foreign formula that meets existing FDA safety standards into the United States.
Biden also invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the formula supply. The act gives the president the power to direct private businesses to prioritize the production of material deemed vital to the national defense. The administration said in a statement at the time, "Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in [sic] supply chains."
On June 4, Abbott announced that the plant was reopening, but production was halted on June 15 due to flooding inside the plant. Abbott said of the measures needed to deal with the flooding, "This will likely delay production and distribution of new product for a few weeks," highlighting the ongoing need for the infant formula being imported under Operation Fly Formula.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.