At a White House briefing on Thursday, press secretary Jen Psaki explained some of the steps that the Biden administration is taking to address a shortage of baby formula in the U.S.
- I guess sort of the bottom line is, you know, on formula, this is a problem. I mean, I think other parents here in the room can probably attest. I, myself, went to three stores this morning. Still haven't found what we need. When will parents be able to get the formula they need? What is your best sense of when store shelves will be stocked again?
JEN PSAKI: Well, I think it's also important to note that the reason we're here is because the FDA took a step to ensure that babies were taking safe formula. There were babies who died from taking this formula. So they were doing their jobs. We have been working, this administration has been working for weeks now to address in anticipation of where we thought there could be shortages. We have also seen an increase over the last four weeks of supply available, which hasn't been an increase over the four weeks prior to the recall. That is a good sign.
But obviously, the steps the president took today are an acknowledgment and a recognition that more needs to be done, that we do not want parents, mothers, families out there to be stressed and worried about feeding their babies. That is why the president today had conversations with the CEOs of Walmart and Target, why he had conversations with Reckitt and Gerber about efforts to increase production, why we're taking steps to ensure that we are making-- we are making WIC dollars available to a range of other supplies.
So we're working. We're seeing increases over the last couple of weeks. More needs to be done. We're going to cut every element of red tape we can cut. We're going to work with manufacturers. We're going to import more to expedite this as quickly as possible.
- But if you are a parent who's looking for formula right now, struggling to find what you need, do you have even a rough guess of how long these shortages are going to last? What should parents be bracing for here?
JEN PSAKI: Well, we've already seen an increase in supply over the past couple of weeks. What we are seeing, which is an enormous problem, is hoarding, people hoarding because they're fearful. That is one element of it. And people hoarding because they are trying to profit off of fearful parents. So that is also something we're focused on taking efforts to track and adjust and address and look into.
But again, more infant formula has been produced in the last four weeks than in the four weeks preceding the recall. We're taking every step to increase that. So our message to parents is, we hear you. We want to do everything we can, and we're going to cut every element of red tape to help address this and make it better for you to get formula on the shelves.