President Biden said Wednesday he was not aware of how dire the baby formula shortage was until April, though formula manufacturers said they alerted retailers of a looming shortage in February.
“I became aware of this problem sometime in — after April or in early April about how intense it was. And so we did everything in our power from that point on,” Mr. Biden said.
The president made the admission at a White House meeting with baby formula executives as his administration seeks to address the nationwide shortage that was sparked by ain February, when Abbott Nutrition’s plant was shut down.
“We knew from the very beginning this would be a very serious event,” said Robert Cleveland, senior vice president at Reckitt, which makes baby formula. “From the moment that that recall was announced, we reached out immediately to retail partners like Target, Walmart to tell them this is what we think will happen.”
Notably absent from the meeting was Abbott, one of the nation’s largest formula manufacturers.
Mr. Biden also announced the next stage of “” on Wednesday. Starting next week, shipments from the United Kingdom and Australia will deliver more than 680,000 pounds of formula products, equivalent to 8.3 million bottles. But it’s just a fraction of what the U.S. needs to feed around 2 million children dependent on formula.
Hannah Kroll, who created a formula exchange group to help parents nationwide, told CBS News that it’s still “very, very hard” to find formula.
“Parents are at this point desperate because their stockpile from two weeks ago is gone,” Kroll said. “It’s terrifying. No parent should be in this situation. It’s heartbreaking.”