FDA official predicts August on-shelf baby formula availability

(NewsNation) — Despite Abbott Nutrition’s resumption of baby formula production, and formula being flown in from around the world, nearly 22% of these products were out of stock last week.

NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” spoke with a top FDA official Friday who said she expects things to be much improved by early to mid-August.

“The situation is improving. More formula is showing up on shelves,” said FDA Food Safety Director Susan Mayne.

In the meantime, families are still struggling to find what they need after closures due to a contamination problem and then flooding at a Sturgis, Michigan, Abbott plant forced shutdowns earlier this year.

In St. Louis on Thursday, for example, a nonprofit distributed donated breast milk to moms in need

“In response to the infant formula shortage, we created this project to disseminate donor milk that’s pasteurized through the Milk Bank,” Dr. Jesse Davis of the Feed the Babies Project said Friday. “We organized our community partners to mass purchase that donor breast milk and distribute it to the people that are most in need.”

According to data from market research company IRI, the amount of formula out of stock actually rose in June. In May it was at 23.7%, compared to nearly 30% in June.

The FDA, however, points to 17 planeloads of international formula delivered to American retailers and hospitals since May, amounting to nearly 61 million 8-ounce bottles of formula.

They say that formula has been inspected for proper nutrient levels and cleared of bacteria concerns.

“Consumers can have confidence that the FDA has looked at these formulas that are coming in new to the country both for nutrition and food safety,” Mayne said.

But officials have also given changing timelines on when things will be back to normal. During his testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at the end of May, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said he expected things to be back to normal within two months — a timeline that has nearly come and gone.

Asked about a new timeline, Mayne said, “I would say by early to mid-August we should continue to see very significant improvement in on-shelf availability.

Thursday, President Biden signed the “Formula Act” — a bipartisan bill that temporarily suspends tariffs on imported formula, potentially making the cost of formula 27% cheaper for families.