The first shipment of infant formula produced overseas and imported under “Operation Fly Formula” is expected to land in the United States on Sunday.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be on hand to receive 132 pallets of infant formula produced by Swiss company Nestle SA that are expected to arrive in Indianapolis, the White House said Saturday.
This shipment includes bottles of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formulas, which the administration has prioritized because of the “essential medical purpose” they serve.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered military planes to transport the cargo from Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
The administration announced on Thursday that it had purchased 1.5 million bottles of infant formula from Nestlé under the program.
The administration launched Operation Fly Formula to streamline imports of foreign formulas and announced the program on Wednesday invoking the Defense Production Act to stem the current shortage of formulas.
Under the program, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture will use commercial aircraft contracted by the Pentagon to pick up infant formula from overseas that meets US health and safety standards.
The move allows carriers to bypass regular air cargo routes, which the White House says will speed final delivery to store shelves.
Invoking the Defense Production Act will force vendors to prioritize sending resources to formula producers before other customers.
Formula shortages have deepened crises, including inflation and soaring gas prices, which have posed relentless political challenges to the administration and Democrats on the Hill.
Party leaders have sought to blame the nation’s leading producer of infant formula, Abbott Nutrition, for the scarcity.
The FDA shut down Abbott’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan, in February citing safety and quality concerns after four infants fell ill, two of whom died.
Abbott officials deny that their product is responsible for infant illness, but have issued a recall of its formula anyway. The company says it is now ready to open its factory.