U.S. to allow baby formula imports amid shortage

STORY: The U.S. will soon allow imports of baby formula from foreign companies as the federal Food and Drug Administration scrambles to ease a shortage putting pressure on parents nationwide.

An FDA official told reporters Monday the temporary move could help put more formula on U.S. supermarket shelves in a few weeks, and that foreign formula makers will need to meet FDA safety and nutritional standards.

Speaking at a press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration was also in talks to provide transportation and logistics support to major formula manufacturers in the meantime.

"We are also in ongoing communications, as we talk about retailers here as well, with Target and Amazon and Walmart and other leading retailers for baby formula to identify parts of the country that may be at risk of critically low supply of infant formula, and have offered to work with manufacturers and retailers to bring more formula to those parts of the country, including the U.S. government transportation and logistical support."

Baby formula has been running low across the country since February, when leading manufacturer Abbott Laboratories recalled their baby powder formula and closed a plant following an FDA investigation into reports of babies falling ill from their product.

The FDA uncovered bacteria contamination in several environmental samples taken at the site, among other problems.

Abbott said in a statement there was no conclusive evidence to link Abbott's formulas to the infant illnesses, and that the investigation found no contamination in its finished product.

Abbott also said Monday it was working with the FDA to reopen the plant, and would do so within two weeks after earning FDA approval.

The shortage of Abbott formula has been compounded by supply-chain snags and historic inflation, leaving about 40% of formula products out of stock nationwide.

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