Democrats in the House of Representatives will hold hearings on the shortage of infant formula in the U.S. and pass legislation to increase the staff of the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that imported foods are safe for infants to consume.

MP Rosa DeLavra, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday unveiled a law that would provide the FDA with $ 28 million in emergency funding to increase inspections at infant formulas around the world.

The FDA is increasing imports of infant formulas from other countries to alleviate the deficit. This is partly due to the closure of the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis, Michigan, due to bacterial contamination at the plant. The United States typically produces 98 percent of the infant formula, and four manufacturers – Abbott, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA and Perrigo – control 90 percent of the domestic market.

MP Rosa DeLavra, D.C., left, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, CA shortage of infant formula in the United States, at the Capitol in Washington, DC, Tuesday, May 17, 2022

J. Scott Appleyt AP

To sell formulas in the U.S., foreign companies must apply to the FDA, which then verifies that their products are safe and nutritious for babies.

However, DeLavra said the FDA told her it had only nine people to inspect domestic blend plants, as well as seven facilities in Europe and two in Mexico. The FDA may end up testing more plants if it approves additional materials for sale formula.

“These facilities need to be inspected. The FDA doesn’t have enough inspection power to be able to do that and do it in a timely manner,” Delaware, D-Conn., Told reporters during a news conference Tuesday. The legislation also provides funding for supply chain monitoring and money to eradicate fraud, she said.

DeLavra said Democrats in the House of Representatives are also considering legislation that would strengthen the FDA’s power to hold companies accountable. The drug regulator has no right to order manufacturers to recall unsafe products. He may recommend withdrawing only if it detects security concerns.

“The FDA has no right to withdraw. We say withdraw, but it is really a matter of moral conviction, “said at a press conference the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, California.

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The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture will hold a hearing Thursday with FDA Commissioner Robert Calif on the baby formula shortage, Delaware said. The House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Trade has scheduled a regular hearing on May 25 with Caliph and FDA food policy chief Frank Janos, according to MP Frank Palone, chairman of the committee.

Representatives of baby formula makers Abbott, Gerber and Reckitt will also attend the hearing next week, Polona said.

The Justice Department in a complaint filed with federal court on Monday claimed Abbott had introduced counterfeit baby formulas to the consumer market. Four infants who used mixtures made at the Sturgis plant were hospitalized with bacterial infections, two of whom died.

Ebat in a statement Monday claimed there was “no convincing evidence” to link pediatrics to the company’s products.

As Democrats step up their efforts to resolve the crisis, they are also stepping up their calls for accountability.

“I think an indictment may be needed,” Pelosi said, without specifying who should be charged. The speaker did not respond to requests for explanations.

Abbott and the FDA have reached an agreement, enforceable by a federal court, to resume opening the plant after the company hires outside experts to correct unsanitary conditions at the plant. However, Abbott said it would take about two weeks to recover it, subject to FDA approval. It may take up to eight weeks for the product to arrive in stores.

Abbott is subject to an agreement called a decree of consent for at least five years. If the company does not comply with the decree, the company charges $ 30,000 in damages for each day it violates.

Abbott should re-close the Sturgis plant if any product is positive for Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella. He must then dispose of the product, find the source of the contamination and eliminate the problem.

Abbott will only be able to restart the plant if it receives permission from the FDA.

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