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Is baby formula stockpiled at the border? Problem Solvers look into concerns

Posted at 12:18 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 06:56:53-04

Supply-chain issues and recalls from one of the biggest baby formula manufacturers in the U.S. have created a nationwide shortage that has parents panicking and others pointing fingers at who to blame.

Retailers are limiting what customers can buy, and doctors and health workers are urging parents to contact food banks or physician's offices, in addition to warning against watering down formula to stretch supplies or using online DIY recipes.

Related: Her premie baby needs hard-to-find formula. So she started a formula exchange.

While parents search for solutions, the baby formula shortage has become an election-year attack on President Joe Biden, according to the Associated Press. Some lawmakers are seeking to lay the blame on his administration heading into the midterms.

Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) posted photos on her social media on May 11 that compared what she said were stockpiles of baby formula for undocumented immigrants with empty grocery shelves for Americans in local stores.

"This is what America last looks like," she said.

Governor Greg Abbott (R - Texas) then issued a joint statement with a president of a labor union that represents Border Patrol agents.

“While mothers and fathers stare at empty grocery store shelves in a panic, the Biden administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border," the statement read, in part. "This is 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.”

After seeing these messages on social media, some viewers reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers for clarity about the infant formula at the border situation.

Here's what we found.

The Biden administration would be breaking the law if baby formula and other essential supplies were not provided at border facilities, according to a report in The Washington Post.

This is due to the 1997 Flores settlement, which set standards regarding when U.S. immigration officials can detain unaccompanied minors, how those minors must be treated, and how and when minors should be released from federal custody, Politifact reported.

Politifact and The Washington Post both noted former President Donald Trump also followed the terms of the Flores agreement, even though his administration unsuccessfully tried to end it.

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data, an average number of 12,511 unaccompanied children were held at their facilities in December of 2021.

Last week, the White House said President Joe Biden addressed the criticism that he was not doing enough to help with the shortage. He said there is “nothing more urgent we’re working on," according to the Associated Press.

Biden spoke with executives from manufacturers Reckitt and Gerber about how they could increase production and how his administration could help. He also talked with leaders from Walmart and Target about how to restock shelves.

On Friday, the Biden administration launched a website to provide resources for families struggling to find infant formula.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it could soon allow foreign-made products to enter the market as another possible solution to the shortage.

Abbott (the company that makes baby formula, not the Texas governor) announced Monday it reached an agreement with U.S. health officials to restart production at its largest domestic factory, a key step toward easing a nationwide shortage. But it will take at least eight weeks after they restart production to get new products shipped out to stores.

Related: Emergency funding bill introduced to address formula shortage

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