Shortage of milk for babies unleashes political offensive against Biden in the US

The White House on Thursday promised measures to deal with a severe shortage of baby milk, a problem that has sparked a political offensive by the Republican opposition against President Joe Biden.

According to the data provider Datasembly, the shortage rate of powdered baby milk reached 43% at the end of last week.

The US Executive is studying, among other things, increasing imports, despite the fact that the United States produces 98% of the infant formula it consumes, it said in a statement, without providing details.

The administration of Biden also indicated that he is working with states to ease the administrative burden on the most disadvantaged families, who buy infant milk through food vouchers.

The White House also said it had asked the federal competition authority to look into abuses associated with shortages, including the reselling of infant formula online at prices well above normal prices.

Biden met with representatives from the retail trade and baby formula producers, in a conversations classified as “productive and encouraging” by an administration official, who requested anonymity.

However, he did not want to clarify how long it would take for the situation to improve.

The Republican opposition, campaigning ahead of the legislative elections in November, has used this issue to attack the government.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik assured in a press conference that she had contacted the corresponding authority, the FDA drug agency, in February: “Joe Biden has no plan. (…) When we asked the White House about the shortage, They laughed. It’s embarrassing,” he said.

“Missouri is one of six states in the United States where more than half of the baby milk is used up”noted another Republican lawmaker, Ann Wagner, saying young mothers haggle on Facebook to get it.

Randy Feenstra, representative for Iowa, assured that in his region “families go 50, 75, even 100 miles (from 80 to 160 kilometers) to try to find her.”

On February 17, after the death of two babies, the manufacturer Abbott announced the “voluntary retirement” of milk powders from its Michigan factory, including Similac, used by millions of American families.

An official investigation determined the product had nothing to do with the deaths of the babies, but production has yet to resume, exacerbating a shortage essentially due to supply chain problems and labor shortages.

The situation is particularly critical for babies who depend on special milk, that only Abbott manufactures, the White House stressed, noting that it is about 5,000 babies in this case, in addition to children and adults with rare metabolic diseases.

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