Few Americans know why there is a baby formula shortage in the U.S., and Governor Greg Abbott, along with many in the Republican Party, is taking the problem and pinning it on President Joe Biden, who has very little to do with what some parents see as a crisis.
Thursday afternoon the Texas Republican issued a statement blasting the Biden administration after one Florida Congresswoman tweeted out a photo of baby formula in a Texas immigrant detention center, which was mostly apple sauce. (More disinformation from the Republicans; this picture on the left is not of formula)
Republicans have been demanding the Biden administration end what they call “catch and release,” and instead detain immigrants who cross into America illegally. Sometimes those immigrants have babies, and those babies need to be fed.
But not according to Governor Abbott, apparently, whose press release says “Children are our most vulnerable, precious Texans and deserve to be put first.”
Abbott blasts the Biden administration for being, it says, “happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border,” and calls feeding babies in detention, “yet another one in a long line of reckless, out-of-touch priorities from the Biden Administration when it comes to securing our border and protecting Americans.
Meanwhile, the backstory involves the closing of an Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan which, because of unsanitary conditions, was eventually closed by the FDA. Formula was recalled and several babies were hospitalized; at least two died of formula contaminated with chronobacter, a bacteria picked up due to unsanitary conditions in the plant.
Abbott has not confirmed how many units have been recalled, but the company’s brands include some of the best-selling baby formulas in the world, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. The company says it continues to produce baby formula at its other plants in the U.S. and overseas.
Abbott didn’t maintain clean surfaces used in producing and handling the powdered formula, according to the FDA inspection, which concluded last week. Additionally, inspectors found a history of contamination with the bacteria, known as cronobacter, including eight instances between fall 2019 and February of this year.
The recalls have exacerbated ongoing shortages of infant formula due to supply chain issues.
Infections with the cronobacter bacteria are rare but can be fatal in babies. Almost all outbreaks reported in the U.S. have been linked to powdered baby formulas, which don’t undergo the same high temperatures used to kill germs in many other foods. Manufacturers have long said that it’s impossible to eliminate all bacteria from the formulas.Detroit Free Press
Freep notes it is unclear why the FDA delayed in closing the Sturgis, Michigan plant.