US Senate passes bill to improve baby formula shortage

UNITED STATES: The US Senate on Friday passed a bill targeted at alleviating the baby formula shortfall for families who receive government aid, which accounts for almost half of all formula purchased in the US.  The bill was passed by the House the day before, and it now moves to President Joe Biden for approval.

Women, Infants and Child recipients receive coupons that can be redeemed for specific goods to complement their diets. Because the vouchers are usually only good for one brand of infant formula, manufacturers are enticed to give steep discounts in order to secure a State's business. The measure allows the Department of Agriculture to waive certain standards in extreme situations, allowing WIC members to buy whichever brand is available.

After the bill was passed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., remarked, "Now, millions of parents will have an easier time acquiring the infant formula that they need."

The Biden administration also announced on May 19 that the Defense Department is working to secure commercial flights to transport 246 pallets of Nestlé formula from Zurich, Switzerland, to Plainfield, Indiana.

The shipments will include the equivalent of up to 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow's milk protein allergies: Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junio, and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA. These are a priority, according to the White House, because they serve a key medical role and are in short supply.

A USD28 million emergency spending package is also being considered by lawmakers to increase manpower at the Food and Drug Administration. This bill also passed the House this week, but its chances in the Senate are dubious.

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