President Joe Biden’s FDA Commissioner on Monday dismissed widespread panic among parents who can’t find baby formula on the shelves at their local grocery store – or, in some cases, in any grocery store in their entire county – blaming "distribution issues," not supply problems or his own agency's failures, for the alarming lack of formula available.
When asked on CNN how the agency could have missed an impending shortage due to ongoing supply chain problems coupled with a known safety concern at an Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis that eventually led to a recall and plant-wide shutdown, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf blamed misleading numbers and parents buying up formula for the shortage, claiming that the shortage never dipped below about 20% nationwide.
The numbers that are quoted commonly in the press are incorrect,” Califf stated, pointing to a “White House fact sheet” that claims recent reports of a 43% formula shortage are wrong.
“I don’t want this to sound in any way like we’re not concerned about the parents that are struggling to find formula for their children,” Califf said. “That’s definitely happening in parts of the country. But you know, the number of stock on shelves is about 90% before…the recall, and it dropped to about 79% at its lowest and we’re on the way back up now.”
Califf then claimed people have bought more formula in recent weeks than in the month before the recall, echoing earlier suggestions by now-former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that hoarding parents are in some way to blame for the current shortage.
“There is formula out there,” he added, blaming “distribution problems,” and not supply issues, for why panicked parents are now driving miles between multiple stores in search of food for their babies.
“Each manufacturer has its own distribution system, but there is no overall system that gets the right formula to the right place,” he said, pointing to an alleged product dissemination problem that, in an industry that's existed for decades, apparently magically cropped up in just the last few months.
“The current system works great as long as there’s nothing perturbing it. But when the plant shut down, it definitely caused problems. So you are correct to call attention to and we’re working on it.”
“We really do anticipate that within, you know, a few weeks we will have things back to normal,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Califf tells us about the formula shortage. Asked if it could have been prevented, he says, “There are always things that we could do better.” pic.twitter.com/O0Xj4ecJ52— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 16, 2022