Baby formula shortage: Biden invokes wartime powers, orders airlifts from Europe to boost supplies

Shelves typically stocked with baby formula sit mostly empty at a store

A shortage of baby formula in the United States has become so serious that supplies are being airlifted from Europe and President Joe Biden has invoked decades-old wartime powers to speed production.

The crisis has left desperate parents frantically searching for infant formula, which is the only recommended source of nutrition for millions of babies across the country who aren’t breastfed.

Supplies of baby formula across the US have been severely curtailed in recent weeks after a safety recall by Abbott Nutrition worsened supply chain disruptions across the industry.

The crisis has left pharmacy and supermarket shelves increasingly bare and parents struggling to find formula for their babies, with many hunting for solutions online.

The Biden administration is now taking drastic measures, invoking the 1950 Defence Production Act to force suppliers to fulfil orders from formula manufacturers before other customers to help ramp up production as quickly as possible.

Biden is also authorising the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to airlift formula supplies that meet federal standards from overseas to the US, in what the White House is calling “Operation Fly Formula”.

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping more formula into the US.

Abbott and its Swiss rival Nestlé have already been shipping cans of baby formula from their plants in Europe to the US to help alleviate the shortage.