House Republicans Launch Probe into FDA’s Handling of Baby-Formula Shortage

A sign stand next to a small amount of toddler nutritional drink mix at Target in Stevensv
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

House Republicans are investigating the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “failure to respond to the nationwide” baby-formula shortage last year.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) and Health Care and Financial Services Subcommittee Chair Lisa McClain (R-MI) are calling for the FDA to provide documents and communications between the FDA, Department of Health and Human Services, and White House staff related to the response to the formula shortage to the committee by April 4.

The Republicans in their letter explained:

The Reagan-Udall Foundation’s report titled “Operational Evaluation of the FDA Human Foods Program,” found that there was “little motivation, and no requirement,” to “facilitate critical thinking and proactive decision-making” during the infant formula shortage. Despite this report, and the acknowledged need for a major overhaul, you stated that there would be no reassignments nor firings over the administration’s response to the infant formula shortage.

Formula shortages began in the summer of 2021 as global supply chains were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the administration scrambled to contain the issue, families across the nation were presented with the question of how they would feed the infants in their families and communities. Now, instead of removing or reassigning the individuals at fault for the poor response to this crisis, the announced restructuring of the food and nutrition division simply requires certain offices and personnel to report to the newly created position of Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. The Committee is concerned that the FDA’s restructuring is a superficial attempt—rather than a real effort—to bring accountability and make meaningful changes. [Emphasis added.]

Baby formula shortages began during the first half of the coronavirus pandemic and further progressed in the summer of 2021 when the global supply chains were disrupted further by the pandemic.

Then, in February 2022, Abbott Laboratories shut down the company’s largest formula factory, which produces roughly one-fifth of U.S. formula, because of safety concerns, in addition to recalling various infant formulas from the plant. This inevitably triggered empty store shelves, higher prices, and retailers limiting sales of scarce products. As of May 2022, a study found that 43 percent of formula products are still out of stock nationwide.

As the Wall Street Journal explained, during the shortage, the Biden administration, through an effort called Operation Fly Formula, used its contracts with commercial air-cargo lines to bring baby formula into the United States from other countries. The agency also allowed various overseas baby formula makers to sell products in the United States.

The press release accompanying the letter also acknowledged that, at the time, former President Donald Trump’s HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra, had plenty of notice of the shortage unfolding but that the FDA delayed taking the steps it needed to have done in order to address the crisis.

The committee has also scheduled a hearing next week on the issue, according to the Wall Street Journal, including testimony from Frank Yiannas. This former FDA official was involved with the formula recall.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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