May 19 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congress passed bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to expand baby formula access for families who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The WIC program provides information on healthy eating and helps millions of families buy nutritious foods including baby formula. This legislation gives the USDA the authority they need to be more flexible during a crisis such as a natural disaster, public health emergency, or recall and shortage currently facing our country. This flexibility would ensure that the brand or type of formula families can buy isn’t restricted by program rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store. In addition, the legislation would require that formula manufacturers that provide formula for WIC babies have a plan in place to respond to a shortage so that families will be able to purchase the formula they need. 

“The baby formula shortage is a crisis, and we must do everything we can to increase the production and supply of formula so families can feed their babies,” said Senator Tillis. “This bipartisan legislation will give low-income families much-needed flexibility so they are not restricted to buying specific brands of baby formula. I applaud Congress for quickly passing this legislation and sending it to President Biden to be signed into law.”  

This week, Senator Tillis also sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with his colleagues demanding answers regarding its inadequate investigation into Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan manufacturing facility and failure to foresee and mitigate the nationwide baby formula shortage.

“Infant formula supplies at local grocery stores were relatively stable for the first half of 2021. The out-of-stock percentage started to climb steadily in the later half and continued to worsen throughout this year,” the senators wrote. “It’s concerning that FDA and key officials in the Administration did not anticipate this crisis or take action within days following Abbott Nutrition’s voluntary recall considering the company holds 48.1 percent of the U.S. market in infant formula. Families are getting to the brink of pursuing unsafe and potentially dangerous options to feed their infants including homemade infant formula. And physicians are, once again, running defense on misinformation due to a lack of federal action to get the word out on safe alternatives.”