First baby formula shipment arrives from Europe, not clear if it’s headed for store shelves

(Video: CNN)

The first shipment of baby formula from Europe arrived in the U.S. on Sunday as media hailed it as a major policy accomplishment of President Joe Biden but it won’t be of any help for those desperate mothers who are searching for the vital nourishment for their infants because it won’t be transported to store shelves.

A massive amount of the formula was offloaded in Indianapolis as part of Operation Fly Formula, the Biden administration’s military mission to address the supply crisis that has worsened over the last several months after a recall by top domestic manufacturer Abbott Laboratories along with the subsequent closing of its Michigan plant. However, it will be a bit longer before mothers who don’t have babies with special needs get any relief.

According to a report from CNN, “The prescription formula will be distributed to areas around the country where there is the most acute need, a Biden administration official earlier told CNN. But the official said none of the first shipment would land on store shelves in the US, adding that Sunday’s shipment is hypoallergenic and will be fed to babies intolerant of protein in cow milk.”

“The shipment included 132 pallets of formula, which arrived on one C-17 cargo plane. The formula originated from Zurich, Switzerland, and was trucked to Germany, where it was loaded on the C-17 and flown to the US,” the outlet added.

Biden took to Twitter to announce the news.

“Folks, I’m excited to tell you that the first flight from Operation Fly Formula is loaded up with more than 70,000 pounds of infant formula and about to land in Indiana,” he said. “Our team is working around the clock to get safe formula to everyone who needs it.”

Last week, Biden finally acted to address the shortage which is just the latest in a series of catastrophes that have occurred on his watch including record gas prices, supply chain disruptions as thousands of shipping containers piled up in ports last year, and budget-crippling food costs that continue to rise by the week as the nation is wracked by the worst inflation in four decades.

“I know parents across the country are worried about finding enough formula to feed their babies,” he said in a White House video. “As a parent and as a grandparent, I know just how stressful that is,” he added, belatedly moving to address what was becoming a major political problem for Democrats in a critical election year.

“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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a news conference.

“Today was the first flight of Operation Fly Formula, but it will not be the last. A second @DeptofDefense aircraft will transport an additional shipment this week. Together, these shipments will improve the supply of critical formula for babies and toddlers with medical needs,” Vilsack announced on Twitter, although not providing specific details on when the inbound shipments will be available in stores.

In another tweet, Vilsack added, “The Biden administration is doing everything in its power to ensure babies and families have access to the formula that they need. I am pleased another shipment of formula will arrive in the US this week. We are working tirelessly to resolve this shortage.”

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