MONDAY, May 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- A 35-ton shipment of hypoallergenic baby formula from Switzerland arrived in the United States on Sunday, the first delivery in what the Biden administration is calling "Operation Fly Formula" to deal with a nationwide shortage.
The 132 pallets of formula arrived in Indianapolis on a military C-17 cargo plane from Germany, and will be fed to babies intolerant of the protein supplied by cow's milk, CNNreported.
The shipment of Nestle Health Science formula is expected to provide enough formula for 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for one week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said as he greeted the delivery in Indianapolis.
"It is a large shipment of very specific and specialized formula. Formula for moms and dads who have children who have allergies where the regular formula just simply will not work," Vilsack said at a news briefing.
None of the shipment will be for sale on store shelves because it's designated for these babies most in need.
A second shipment of 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA infant formula is expected to take place soon, according to the White House.
All told, these first rounds of shipments are expected to be the equivalent of 1.5 million doses of eight-ounce bottles, CNN said.
President Joe Biden announced Operation Fly Formula last week, directing the federal government to import formula from overseas.
On Sunday, the administration also announced two priority orders under the Defense Production Act for infant formula from Reckitt and Abbott Nutrition. The authorizations under the act will help the companies to more quickly receive the raw materials needed to produce formula.
Faced with mounting pressure to help desperate parents, Biden last Wednesday invoked the power of the wartime Defense Production Act to get more of the precious product into American homes.
Under the new powers, the federal government can use commercial aircraft or air cargo planes owned by the Defense Department to transport infant formula from countries abroad and fly it into the United States, getting it more rapidly onto store shelves.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also announced last week that it was expediting the approvals process, so that foreign suppliers of baby formula could quickly get their products into the United States.
"I know parents all across the country are worried about finding enough infant formula to feed their babies — as a parent and as a grandparent, I know just how stressful that is," Biden said in a video posted on Twitter last week. He said he was ordering his administration "to do everything possible to ensure there's enough safe baby formula and that it's quickly reaching families that need it the most."
Early last week the FDA also announced that an Abbott Nutrition baby formula manufacturing facility in Michigan that has been closed since February due to safety issues will likely soon resume operations, helping to further boost supply.
HealthDay has tips from experts here for parents struggling to safely feed babies in this crisis.