SAN ANTONIO — The Biden Administration is taking steps to alleviate the baby formula shortage, but it’s still unclear when parents can expect to see canisters on the shelves.
“It’s not like during the toilet paper crisis of 2020 where as long as there is some kind of toilet paper, you would use it” said Elyse Bernal, president & CEO of Any Baby Can – San Antonio, a non-profit that offers support for families with special needs
“That’s not what you have here,” she said. “You can’t just get any formula and hope it works. It may or may not.”
For San Antonio, Any Baby Can has been on the front lines of the baby formula shortage.
“During this crisis, we have dropped the requirement for any of the people that we serve to have some kind of special healthcare need and have opened it up to any parent who has a child who needs formula,” Bernal said.
In light of the ongoing shortage, the White House is launching “Operation Fly Formula” which will contract commercial planes through the Defense Department to pick up formula that meets U.S. safety standards from overseas
“Bypassing traditional cargo routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” a senior administration official said.
The White House also invoked the defense production act to give formula manufacturers special priority from suppliers
The company that makes one of those items like a label has a lot of customers, one of which happens to be in some formula manufacturer,” a senior administration official said. “By having DPA authority available for infant formula. We make sure formula manufacturers are at the top of the list for that item
Says as encouraging as that move is, it should have happened sooner.
“I think we’re all comforted to see that the administration is moving with speed to bring in more imported formulas from other countries, but also speed up production. I wish that we could have seen that sooner. In the meantime, we don’t know yet when that’s going to get to shelves.”
Until the formula does get to those shelves there are a few things Bernal says parents should keep in mind.
“First of all, call Any Baby Can,” she said. “We will be happy to help get you to the right place,”
She also says it’s important to talk to your pediatrician about the formula your baby had previously been on and ask what suitable alternatives exist. She also stressed that any formula you give a baby must come from a trusted source.
“Definitely do not try to make your own formula. Definitely be careful where you are finding that formula and be sure that it’s coming from a trustworthy source.”
Bernal hopes the weaknesses exposed by this shortage and the challenges that have arisen from them can serve as a learning moment to lawmakers and regulators in the future, before something like this happens again.
“There are perfectly safe formulas that exceed the standards of FDA regulations in other countries,” she said. “I think that we can learn from this and utilize that, import those more quickly so that when we do have situations like this, we’re not in these desperate times.”
Any Baby Can can be contacted for advice on baby formula at 210-227-0170.