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Empty Similac baby food shelves at a grocery store in Georgia in May 2022. (Photo: Shutterstock).

Gottheimer pushes Biden to boost baby formula production

Murphy, Platkin warn retailers against price gauging

By David Wildstein, May 18 2022 3:38 pm

Update: President Biden moved to ensure the supply of infant formula on Wednesday by delegating authority under the Defense Production Act

President Joe Biden should invoke the Defense Production Act to boost baby formula production, says Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff.

“No baby in our country should go hungry and no mother or father should have to struggle to find the food to feed their child,” Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer led a bipartisan group of 20 House member, including Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), in introducing a bill to guarantee that baby formula is distributed equally throughout the U.S. through federal qualified health centers.

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy activated state price gauging laws as part of an executive order that empowered State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan to “take any such emergency measures as he or she may determine necessary, in order to address any actual or potential issues that may result from the shortage of baby formula that currently exists.”

“To any retailer who may try to take advantage of vulnerable families during this shortage, let me be clear that this reprehensible action will not be tolerated,” Murphy said.  “And to any New Jerseyan affected by this shortage, rest assured that my administration will do everything in our power to ensure families have access to the formula they need.”

Murphy also authorized Adjutant General Lisa Hou to activate the New Jersey National Guard, if necessary.

First Lady Tammy Murphy, who has taken a leading role on issues of maternal and infant mortality, said that “New Jersey stands with our families and will work to provide equitable access to formula to ensure the health and well-being of infants throughout our state.”

“We want businesses and consumers to know the price gouging law is now in effect to ensure baby formula is not excessively priced anywhere it is offered or sold in the state,” said Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin.  “Individuals or merchants looking to make a profit by violating the law during the current state of emergency will face severe penalties.”

In a letter to baby formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, U.S. Senator Cory Booker is demanding answers about an alleged lack of oversight that allowed the company to ignore U.S. Food and Drug Safety warnings.

“The infant formula shortage is putting children across our nation at risk,” Booker said. “Our most vulnerable people relying on programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children are especially impacted.”

Booker noted that Abbott is “one of four infant formula manufacturers that control nearly 90 percent of the market.

“This has led to a fragile system that fails to respond to supply chain disruptions adequately,” Booker noted.  “This is yet another example of how the hyper-consolidation we see across the food system hurts American families.”

For additional information on Department of Health guidelines for New Jersey families affected by the baby formula shortage, or to file a price gauging complaint, visit nj.gov/babyformula/

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