Import of baby formula worth 19 million bottles set to arrive in US next month

Vice President Harris said there's "more work to do" to address shortages.

June 18, 2022, 8:38 PM

Over a million pounds of baby formula is set to ship into the United States sometime next month, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

Approximately 750,000 cans of Danone formula -- equivalent to 1.3 million pounds of formula or roughly 19 million 8-ounce bottles -- will be imported from the company's facility in Ireland and is expected to be sold at major retailers in July.

PHOTO: Cargo carrying pallets of baby formula are removed from a United Airlines passenger plane arriving from London Heathrow Airport at the Dulles International Airport, on June 17, 2022, in Dulles, Va.
Cargo carrying pallets of baby formula are removed from a United Airlines passenger plane arriving from London Heathrow Airport at the Dulles International Airport, on June 17, 2022, in Dulles, Va.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The batch will be Aptamil First Infant Milk Stage 1, which is a formula for most healthy babies. The formula may not be suitable for infants who are born prematurely, those at risk for iron deficiencies or who have a low birth weight, the agency warned.

The import is part of the Biden administration's ongoing "Operation Fly Formula" to address a nationwide shortage of baby formula that has left parents scrambling to find available stock in stores.

Vice President Kamala Harris greeted the latest shipment on Friday at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The shipment included the equivalent of 200,000 8-ounce bottles of Kendamil formula flown by United Airlines from the United Kingdom.

"Let's be clear, this really is about what should be one of the highest purposes for any one of us, which is to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our children, the children of our country," Harris said in remarks delivered at the airport.

PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff meet with aviation and transport workers who are facilitating the delivery of baby formula, at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., on June 17, 2022.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff meet with aviation and transport workers who are facilitating the delivery of baby formula, at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., on June 17, 2022.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The administration, which faced criticism for its response to the shortage, invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up domestic production and expanded access to baby formula for recipients of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (also known as WIC).

"There's no doubt there's more work to do," Harris said, adding: "We have seen progress, but the work that we need to do is to continue to move the formula as quickly as possible and get it on the shelves."

This weekend, three more flights carrying Kendamil infant formula will arrive at Dulles International Airport. Once it arrives, Kendamil products are transferred to Target and made available to their stores nationwide.

PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris smiles to a baby as she and Second Gentleman Doug Hemhoff, meet with aviation and transport workers who are facilitating the delivery of baby formula, at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., on June 17, 2022.
Vice President Kamala Harris smiles to a baby as she and her husband Second Gentleman Doug Hemhoff, meet with aviation and transport workers who are facilitating the delivery of baby formula, at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., on June 17, 2022.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The FDA said by June 19, "Operation Fly Formula" flights will have brought nearly 13 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of formula to the U.S.

As flights continue to arrive, production at Abbott Nutrition's baby formula plant in Michigan has once again halted due to flooding in the area after severe storms.

Abbott's plant was closed for nearly four months due to contamination concerns. The shuttering of the site and Abbott's voluntary recall of products exacerbated the shortages.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said he's been in contact with Abbott CEO Robert Ford and the two have a "shared desire to get the facility up and running again as quickly as possible."

In a statement, Abbott said the latest shutdown "will likely delay production and distribution of new product for a few weeks."

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