The House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced in a press release Friday that it is launching an investigation into the ongoing baby formula shortage.
The panel will press four of the largest domestic manufacturers of baby formula — Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestlé USA, and Perrigo Co.; together they control nearly 90% of the market.
Democrat Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the head of the subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, wrote to the companies announcing the move.
“The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities throughout the country — particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health inequities, including food insecurity,” the pair said.
Maloney and Krishnamoorthi added that by May 26, the committee would like a briefing and responses from the manufacturers.
Further, lawmakers are seeking documents from Abbott Nutrition related to the conditions of its plant in Sturgis, Michigan, earlier this year which led to nationwide recalls of several of its infant formula products.
The recall followed four reports of a rare bacteria that causes deadly infections in babies, two of whom died.
The news comes two days after the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it would hold a hearing on May 25 to investigate the origins of the shortage, likely calling Food and Drug Administration officials and Abbott Nutrition executives to testify.
“Ensuring the safety and well-being of our nation’s children, including safe and nutritious formula, is one of our most important collective responsibilities,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said in a statement.
“I commend the Biden administration and the Food and Drug Administration’s recent actions to increase supply of infant formula and stand ready to work together until this shortage is resolved.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s probe stems from a statement by Abbott on Wednesday, claiming the company could have its Michigan plant up and running in two weeks if the FDA allowed it to reopen, according to The Guardian.
The FDA responded, saying its investigation was ongoing. The agency added that the Sturgis plant was not “clean and sanitary” when last inspected and observed five strains of the germ Cronobacter, The Hill reported.
Abbott has said that testing confirmed no link between its formulas and the illnesses.
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