National WIC Association

May 17, 2022

House Takes Steps to Strengthen WIC’s Response to Infant Formula Recalls

National WIC Association: “Immediate actions to shore up supply and provide families with options must be paired with meaningful steps to strengthen resilience in the infant formula manufacturing sector and break up the highly centralized operations that precipitated this supply crisis.”

WASHINGTON D.C. - Earlier today, Reps. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) and Michelle Steel (R-CA) – along with Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and Labor Committee – introduced the Access to Baby Formula Act.

Brian Dittmeier, Senior Director of Public Policy for the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:

“From day one of the Abbott recall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and State WIC agencies worked with every tool at their disposal to expand options for WIC families searching for infant formula. Many flexibilities enacted in February 2022 were tied to COVID-related authorities, underscoring how WIC’s program structure had not anticipated the scale of the manufacturing sector’s unprecedented failure to produce adequate supply. If not for a global pandemic occurring simultaneously to Abbott’s recall, WIC families would have been left with fewer options as supply diminished on shelves across the country.

“The Access to Baby Formula Act will codify much-needed waiver authorities for WIC and build contingencies into WIC contracts for infant formula, ensuring that the program can swiftly respond to product recalls and supply disruptions. This effort follows the release of draft text for emergency supplemental funding that would provide $28 million to the Food and Drug Administration to increase capacity for monitoring and inspections that assure the safety of infant formula products. Even in this period of limited supply, we must be deliberate in prioritizing product safety and centering optimal health and the lives of babies.

“With the progress in the last week to bolster supply and manufacturing capacity, we must continue on a two-pronged approach to address infants’ nutrition needs. Immediate actions to shore up supply and provide families with options must be paired with meaningful steps to strengthen resilience in the infant formula manufacturing sector and break up the highly centralized operations that precipitated this supply crisis. Also, thorough investigations should expose wrongdoings and address the pattern of corporate consolidation and intrusive marketing practices that built up reliance on a market that could not deliver.

“We thank Speaker Pelosi, Chair Scott, and Chair DeLauro – as well as Reps. Hayes and Steel – for their ongoing attention to the infant formula supply and their efforts to improve access to essential nutrition for babies across the country.”

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The National WIC Association (NWA) is the non-profit membership organization for State and local providers of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). NWA is the go-to voice of and for WIC staff at more than 12,000 WIC locations across the country who work to support more than 6.2 million mothers and young children. For over three decades, NWA has worked to build broad, bipartisan consensus for WIC’s programmatic goals and public health mission. NWA provides member-driven advocacy; education, guidance, and support to WIC staff; and drive innovation to strengthen WIC as we work toward a nation of healthier women, children, and their families. Learn more at www.nwica.org