Pallone Remarks at Press Conference on Baby Formula Shortage
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other House Democratic leaders at a press conference this afternoon to discuss their efforts to address the nationwide baby formula shortage. Following, are Chairman Pallone’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good afternoon, everyone.
We are here today because we are mounting an all-hands-on-deck response to ensure America’s babies have access to safe and nutritious formula.
The Biden Administration has already taken a number of important responsive actions including providing more flexibility for the WIC program to boost accessibility, working with manufacturers to increase production at other facilities, and encouraging importation of safe infant formula to ensure families have access to formula nationwide.
These are all important actions, but it’s also clear that more must be done now and in the months ahead.
Our top priority is ensuring America’s babies have safe nutrition and that a crisis like this never happens again.
That’s why the Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing next week to hear from the FDA officials directly responsible for food safety, as well as executives from the nation’s three largest baby formula manufacturers.
The Committee will hear from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Califf, Food Policy and Response Deputy Commissioner Yiannas, and Center for Food Safety Director Mayne at next week’s hearing. These are the officials at FDA who are directly involved in food safety.
In addition, we’ll also hear from Abbott President Christopher Calamari, Gerber Vice President Scott Fitz, and Reckitt President of Nutrition Robert Cleveland at that hearing. It’s critical that we hear from the companies about how they are working to ramp up production to address these ongoing shortages.
We need to hear directly from these officials and executives as we work together with the Administration and manufacturers to end these shortages immediately and craft long-term solutions to prevent anything like this from occurring again.
As the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees and authorizes the FDA, we stand ready to exercise our oversight and legislative authority to ensure the agency has the tools it needs to carry out its mission guaranteeing the safety of the nation’s food —particularly the baby formula American families rely upon.
There are several legislative options already on the table including, improving transparency through shortage reporting requirements to require manufacturers to alert FDA of potential shortages so that we can shift production quickly; and empowering FDA to more quickly set limits on contamination, which is currently bogged down in long and cumbersome regulatory processes.
It’s important that we take an expansive legislative approach to this issue and the Energy and Commerce Committee is ready to get to work.
Tomorrow, the Committee is taking concrete action by moving a policy in our user fee package that will make it easier for FDA to recruit and retain highly qualified staff across the agency, including in areas overseeing infant formula and baby food.
I look forward to learning more at next week’s hearing as we work to resolve both this short-term shortage and develop long-term solutions to ensure this never happens again.
Thank you all.