Baby food is becoming scarce in the USA - now the government is taking drastic measures and having baby milk flown in with military planes. The first plane takes off from Ramstein Air Force Base in Rhineland-Palatinate. The background is a serious breakdown at the largest manufacturer in the USA.
Due to dramatic bottlenecks in the USA, the US government flies in infant formula via its Ramstein Air Force Base in Rhineland-Palatinate. The director of the National Economic Council in the White House, Brian Deese, said on the US broadcaster CNN that the first machine with medical special baby food had started from Ramstein in the direction of the USA. Further flights are planned in the coming days.
US President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter during his trip to Asia that there were more than 70,000 pounds (almost 32 tons) of infant formula on board the first military plane. "Our team works around the clock to get safe baby food to everyone who needs it."
The background to the bottlenecks is the failure of an Abbott factory, the largest manufacturer of infant formula in the USA. Abbott recalled several product lines after four infants became ill and two died, possibly due to bacterial contamination. Production at one of the company's plants in the state of Michigan was temporarily halted in February.
Biden has declared the bottlenecks a top priority and, among other things, activated a wartime law to boost production. Biden also announced "Operation Fly Formula" last week. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered flights to the site on Friday. The White House had announced that military aircraft from Ramstein would initially be used because of the urgency because no commercial flights were available over the weekend. In the future, however, most deliveries would be handled with commercial planes. When asked why baby food could be scarce at all in the USA - one of the richest countries in the world - Deese said: "It's frustrating."
Abbott CEO Robert Ford expressed his regret on Saturday. "We feel sorry for every family we have let down since our voluntary recall exacerbated our country's baby food shortage," Ford wrote in a guest post in the Washington Post. Nevertheless, one believes that the recall was correct. "We will not take any chances when it comes to children's health." It is known that due to the lack of Abbott special foods, some children who cannot digest other foods and milk have come to the hospital. "This is tragic and heartbreaking."
Ford announced measures to overcome the bottlenecks. The Abbott boss wrote that the production of this special food was given the highest priority. The affected families should be helped with a fund of 5 million dollars (4.73 million euros). In addition, another Abbott plant that otherwise manufactures products for adults has now been converted to baby food. In addition, baby food is flown in from a factory in Ireland. The Michigan plant is expected to reopen in the first week of June. Abbott is also investing in measures to ensure that such bottlenecks do not occur again.