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First shipment of infant formula arrives in US from Europe

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) – A military cargo plane carrying the first shipment of infant formula from Europe to help tackle a critical shortage in the United States landed in Indianapolis on Sunday, and the White House said announced that a second flight had been arranged.

A Feb. 17 recall by top infant formula maker Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) and the closure of its manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, during a US Food and Drug Administration investigation. United, have created one of the largest infant formula shortages in recent history. for American families.

“This is an important step, but it is by no means the only step that needs to take place. We will continue to work as the President has instructed us to seek out all opportunities to increase supply,” said the Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who greeted the aircraft on arrival.

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“This particular formula is for a very, very small percentage of children. About 17,000 children in the country are basically the beneficiaries of this particular formula,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s administration is looking to stock empty shelves with 1.5 million containers of Nestlé specialty infant formula (NESN.S). Biden last week invoked the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to help boost supplies.

The White House said on Sunday that a second flight carrying a formula would depart from Ramstein Air Base in Germany in the coming days. The White House said Abbott and a second infant formula maker, Reckitt, were the first companies to receive priority status for raw material supplies under the Defense Production Act.

Nestlé also said more shipments would arrive in the coming days. Read more

Troops used forklifts to unload crates of cargo from the plane in Indianapolis and onto trucks heading to distribution centers.

Abbott, the largest U.S. supplier of powdered infant formula, has closed its Michigan plant following reports of bacterial infections in four infants, worsening a shortage among several manufacturers that began with supply chain issues. related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Abbott chief executive Robert Ford on Sunday apologized for the shortage and promised to fix it, adding that the plant would reopen the first week of June and it would take six to eight weeks for products to reach store shelves.

“We are sorry for all the families we have abandoned since our voluntary recall exacerbated the formula shortage in our country,” he wrote in a Washington Post column.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency on Sunday to prevent baby formula prices from rising.

“This emergency executive order will help us crack down on any retailer seeking to take advantage of this crisis by raising prices for this essential good,” Adams said in a statement.

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Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and Chris Gallagher, additional reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in Davos, Switzerland, Barbara Goldberg in New York and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Ross Colvin, Bill Berkrot, Chris Reese and Paul Simao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.