USDA to Offer Waiver Nationwide for Infant Formula 

USDA to Offer Waiver Nationwide for Infant Formula

Written by on June 7, 2022

U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering, nationwide, waivers to help people access infant formula for families in need as states distribute formula made available by the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Operation Fly Formula.”

According to a statement from the Administration, “The Operation Fly Formula shipments will transport the equivalent of up to 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three formulas—Alfamino® Infant, Alfamino® Junior, and Gerber Good Start® Extensive HA—all of which are hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow’s milk protein allergy. These formulas have been prioritized because they serve a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States because of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure. These shipments will include approximately 246 pallets.”

Photo credit: Nestlé S.A.

Leveraging new authority from the Access to Baby Formula Act, the USDA is taking advantage of this opportunity to expand access to baby formula.

“USDA is committed to providing our WIC families with nutritious foods, and while we continue working with our many partners to bring the infant formula shortages to a speedy conclusion, we’re also going to keep looking for ways to help families here and now,” said Stacy Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “We’re maximizing flexibility, encouraging action, and providing ongoing support so we can all overcome this obstacle together.”

These efforts build on existing options to provide the widest possible access to infant formula, which includes WIC families. Within days of the recall, USDA offered WIC state agencies waivers to maximize formula options for participants to make sure families could return “any recalled formula.”

Photo credit: Nestlé S.A.

According to a recent press release, to date, “USDA has approved well over 250 state waiver requests.”

Additionally, Food and Nutrition Service recently encouraged state agencies to assist their infant formula manufacturers to “implement temporary flexibility” in their contracts with WIC to purchase alternative “sizes, forms, or brands” of infant formula during the ongoing shortage.

“When formula supply began to tighten, we looked at all avenues to ensure safe and nutritious options for North Carolina babies and families,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “We immediately began working with our federal partners and with our contracted WIC manufacturer, Nestle Gerber, to give families in the WIC program the flexibility to choose different sizes, types and brands of formula during the shortage. We negotiated and implemented these changes as quickly as possible to relieve some of the stress that WIC-participating families felt.”

The USDA has been working closely with HHS and the FDA (and the Administration) to support WIC families through this supply chain upheaval to bring a “swift end to the challenge.”

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