More parents could have access to baby formula from abroad – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) — The Biden administration is making it easier for low-income families to obtain baby formula imported from abroad to cover the Lack plagues the parents from coast to coast.

The US Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it is offering statewide exemptions Families with federal WIC benefits can access formulas that are not normally allowed for use in the Program. The products come under from other countries Operation Fly formulawhich the government launched last month following a massive recall of Abbott Nutrition baby formula in February.

The agency is using the new authority of the Access to Baby Formula Act, which Congress recently passed, to offer the waivers.

Previous Operation Fly Formula missions delivered formula products that were already available in the US, so they already meet the standard for WIC. officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

About half of US infant formula is purchased by people taking advantage of state WIC perks, which allow them to get the formula for free but limit the type, size, and brand they can choose. Approximately 1.2 million infants participate in the program.

This latest move builds on the USDA’s response to the recall and ensures WIC benefits can be extended to new, imported formulas, said Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the nonprofit National WIC Association.

“As Operation Fly Formula bolsters supplies in the near term and brings reassurance to parents across the country, we cannot lose sight of the structural reforms needed to protect against an outage like Abbott’s, build a resilient manufacturing sector and meet the needs of the nation’s most vulnerable infants,” he said.

Bring baby food to parents

The Biden administration does several trains trying to get baby formula into the hands of parents following Abbott’s recall, exacerbating shortages caused by ongoing supply chain problems.

The government has flown tons of baby formula from other countries since last month. The administration announced Monday a fifth flight that will bring the equivalent of about 1.6 million 8-ounce bottles of Nestlé infant formula from Cologne, Germany to Fort Worth, Texas this week.

Abbott has too the factory reopened at the center of the recall, which produces nearly half of the powdered formula sold in the US. However, it could be weeks before regular supply levels are reached.

Abbott is the exclusive infant formula supplier to approximately half of WIC’s infants.

WIC Waivers

The USDA has already granted waivers to states to give parents using WIC benefits a wider range of options. The waivers, approved since February, allow families to purchase alternative container sizes, including those that exceed typical maximums, and formula forms, as well as purchase alternative brands without medical certifications. The flexibility allows parents to have liquid concentrate or ready-to-use formula rather than just powder.

A third type of waiver allows stores to accept exchanges of formulas purchased with WIC benefits.

The USDA has approved well over 250 state waiver requests, the agency said Monday. Every state now offers at least one waiver.

North Carolina and its contracted formula maker Nestlé Gerber were first to put the increased flexibility into practice by agreeing to a contract amendment that expands access to formula for WIC participants in the state, the USDA said Monday. It allows them to choose different sizes, types and brands of formula.

The Ohio State Board of WIC received USDA approval for eight more Mead Johnson products beginning June 13, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday.

Formula still hard to find

However, formula remains in short supply in many places.

WIC program managers told CNN late last month that they are still getting a steady stream of calls from families who can’t find a formula. Rural areas that lack grocery stores appear to be struggling the hardest, even in states that have generally had fewer shortages.

The 49 US states and territories that contract Abbott for WIC formula also appear to have had greater bottlenecks for longer than those that contract with the other two major formula makers Mead Johnson Nutrition, a Reckitt subsidiary, and Nestlé, the manufacturer of tanners, contract brands.

In Michigan, which contracts with Abbott, about 85% of formula-fed WIC participants are affected by the recall and shortage, said Lynn Sutfin, press secretary for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Illinois WIC director Stephanie Bess said that when the national shortage began, the state was “in pretty good shape” because it had a formula contract with Mead Johnson. When the shortage began, only about 1,000 families were affected, but in recent weeks the office has seen a significant increase in calls from caregivers unable to find formula.

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https://whdh.com/news/more-parents-could-have-access-to-baby-formula-from-abroad/ More parents could have access to baby formula from abroad – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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