Senate OKs Bill to Overhaul Infant Formula Rules

FRIDAY, May 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- A bill that would allow families in a U.S. government assistance program to buy whatever brand of baby formula they can find is on the way to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The bill, which is meant to help families in the WIC program obtain baby formula in the midst of a nationwide shortage, was passed by the Senate on Thursday and by the House on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Families in WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) receive vouchers that they redeem for specific foods, but the vouchers are typically limited to one brand of infant formula. The bill will allow them to buy any brand of formula that is available.

"Now, millions of parents will have an easier time finding the baby formula that they need," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the AP reported.

In related news, the U.S. Defense Department is hiring commercial aircraft to transport about 246 pallets of Nestlé formula from Switzerland to the United States, the Biden administration said Thursday.

The products will include up to 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow's milk protein allergy: Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior, and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA, the AP reported.

These formulas are a priority because they're medically important and in short supply, according to the White House.

The infant formula shortage in the United States was triggered by the closure of the nation's largest formula manufacturing plant due to safety concerns. On Thursday, FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan could reopen as soon as next week.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a preliminary deal with Abbott to restart production if safety upgrades and certifications are met.

However, even after production resumes, it could take about two months before new formula from the plant starts appearing on store shelves, Abbott has said.

More information

HealthDay has tips from experts for parents struggling to feed babies in this crisis.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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