The FDA “threw the ball” in the country crisis with the baby formula – closing a critical factory beyond product recalls and then did not warn parents of the consequences, experts told The Post on Friday.
Desperate moms and dads are turning to trawl shops across the country in search of baby formula since major manufacturer Abbott issued a safety recall in February for products made at its Sturgis, Mich. Plant due to contamination concerns.
The Food and Drug Administration later closed the plant after federal inspectors found that Abbott had failed to maintain health conditions and procedures there – setting off a crippling waterfall in the supply chain.
“Someone, whether it’s Abbott or the FDA, should have realized, ‘We’re stopping production on one of the few baby formula plants and what the effects are,'” said William Marler, a food lawyer. -security cases, to The Post.
“That’s where the FDA and Abbott threw the ball. . They could have recalled the product without closing the installation. They recall all the time without closing the installation “.
Manhattan mother Amy Daly, 38, of the Upper West Side, mourned Friday she was forced to wean her 11-month-old baby Alice early when the shortage fell.
“People are desperate. … It’s a real crisis. “Moms need it,” he said.
“The administration should have known that the shortage was coming and did something to prevent it – or at least warn the moms more,” said Daly, who stood on a playground a block below the Duane Reade with shelves. its for infant formula now completely. naked.
On Friday, President Biden, who has been criticized by critics for handling the crisis, argued that only “better readers of the mind” could be more effective than his government and the FDA in dealing with the plight.
His deceptive comment came the day after the White House announced that it would finally begin paving the way for formula imports from abroad – several months after the plant closed.
“Some products come from overseas, but the US bureaucracy prevents much-needed supplies,” Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman said in an article Friday.
“Every time this issue comes up in the news, all the Biden Group and its allies in the Capitol do is ask for more business research.
“Now the president wants the Federal Trade Commission to look for evidence of price increases, and House Democrats want testimony from formula makers. “How about researching the FDA and letting people who can make baby milk feed hungry newborns?”
Peter Pitch – a former associate FDA commissioner and now head of the Center for Public Interest Medicine – told the Post that the agency “knew this shortage was about to happen.
“They should have educated parents, warned them in advance, informed them how to prepare,” he said. “The result was that one day the parents went to the store and the shelves were empty – and they panicked.
“The White House is not handling it,” Pitch added bluntly.
Outgoing White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not help more than her boss when asked on Friday how long the shortages were expected to be the issue.
“Really important question, but it is difficult for us to make an assessment,” he said.
He even claimed during a briefing on Thursday that the FDA made the right moves throughout, because “there were babies who died from taking this milk.”
Abbott has categorically denied that any of her factory products killed babies, much less made them sick.
The FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert Khalif said in a tweet on Friday that the government’s efforts to help other companies increase production and increase imports from abroad should reduce the shortage within “a few weeks”.
However, the head of Perrigo, the company that makes Walmart and Amazon baby products, told Reuters on Friday that he expected the shortage to last “the rest of the year”.
Abbott insisted it would be able to resume production at its closed plant “within two weeks” of FDA approval to restart work.
Since closing, Abbott has said it has shipped millions of canned food to the United States from its FDA-registered facility in Ireland and has prioritized baby milk production at its facility in Columbus, Ohio.
Several industry experts said the destruction of the formula could have been avoided if the government had clear leadership and an “exclusive food service.”
“The whole situation could have been done with a sense of urgency when you look at the population that swallows this product,” said Mitzi Baum, chief executive of STOP Food Borne Illness, a non-profit organization.
Baum added that the delay was a reflection of a “system malfunction” that did not protect public health.
“Most of the FDA funding goes to drugs and equipment, and the agency’s food department is severely underfunded and lacks clear leadership,” Baum said.
Hal King, managing director of Active Food Safety LLC, a consulting firm in the food industry, added: “I do not blame the FDA, I blame the government.
“We need a special food service,” King said.
“The FDA’s communication with the public and the company’s communication with the public was too slow to inform people that there was food in the system that made people sick.
“It’s good to take things off the shelves, but it does not tell people about the products they may have in their homes. “This process is broken.”