The first Operation Fly Formula shipment has landed in the US with 78,000 pounds of baby formula onboard.
A military plane carrying the much-needed cargo arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, where it was met by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
It is the first of several flights authorized by the White House that are expected to arrive in the US from Europe to help ease the nationwide formula shortage.
The crisis was sparked by the closure of the country’s largest formula manufacturing plant in Michigan in February after two babies died from bacterial infections.
The White House says that 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula was flown from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to the US.
It expects that another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula will arrive in the next few days.
Operation Fly Formula is underway. Thanks to the teamwork of the men and women of U.S. Transportation Command, needed specialty infant formula is in the United States. pic.twitter.com/uErzdh6tXk
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 22, 2022
Together, officials say that will be enough for around 1.5m eight-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are for children with cow’s milk protein allergy.
The flight landed in Indianapolis because it is a distribution hub for Nestle. The formula will be taken to the company’s distribution centre nearby and checked before being distributed to pharmacies, hospitals and doctor’s office, the Biden administration says.
Baby formula shelves are now bare in stores across the country as the Biden administration tries to get a grip on the situation.
The Abbott Nutrition plant linked to the shortage of baby formula struck a deal to resume operations within two weeks, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
CNN's Dana Bash to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese: "I have to ask...how do we get to the point where the United States of America has to airlift baby formula from another country in order to feed its children?" pic.twitter.com/Ed0qTPoQRs
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) May 22, 2022
Abbott entrered a consent decree with the FDA on Monday, which if court-approved sets out the steps the company needs to carry out to resume production at the Michigan factory.
Earlier, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, was grilled on the crisis by CNN’s Dana bash on Sunday.
“It goes back to this question of how we can bring more competition in our economy, have more providers have this formula so that no individual company has this much control over supply chains,” he said.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Abbott, apolgised for his company’s role in the crisis.
“We’re sorry to every family we’ve let down since our voluntary recall exacerbated our nation’s baby formula shortage,” Robert Ford wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.