Rep. Hayes Introduces Bill to Improve Access to Infant Formula for Vulnerable Families Amid Shortage

WASHINGTON – Today, Education and Labor Committee Member, Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05), introduced the Access to Baby Formula Act (H.R.7791)— legislation to help improve access to infant formula for vulnerable families during the shortage crisis.  

Regrettably, the baby formula shortage has taken an especially dangerous toll on women and children from underserved communities who use WIC (women, infant and children) benefits to purchase formula. In response, the Access to Baby Formula Act provides flexibility so that low-income families can continue purchasing safe infant formula with their WIC benefits during extenuating circumstances, such as a supply chain disruption. 

“We are in the midst of a national emergency, where families are panicking as they work to prevent their babies from going hungry. I have heard directly from constituents who are searching for formula to no avail and we are actively seeing the consequences of an essential service throttled by a monopoly industry during a time of unprecedented supply chain challenges. Today, we are taking action to help our most vulnerable families feed their babies,” said Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05). As a young mom, I turned to the WIC program to help my family. As the Chairwoman of the Nutrition Subcommittee, I am now working with Chairman Bobby Scott to protect these vital services. My bill, the Access to Baby Formula Act, helps improve access to formula products for WIC participants, while also ensuring participants are better protected during future product recalls.  I am hopeful this effort will provide urgent relief for struggling families.”

“The shortage of infant formula has been distressing for families in Virginia and across the nation. This crisis is particularly alarming as it has disproportionately affected women and children who rely on WIC benefits to purchase formula. That is why Representative Hayes and I have taken action to provide additional WIC flexibilities, so vulnerable families can use their benefits on other safe and available formula products. This legislation will help ensure that babies receive the nutrition they need,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. “While I am encouraged that the Biden Administration and Abbott Nutrition have come to an agreement to restart production, I remain committed to working with my colleagues to ensure families can maintain access to the formula they need in the interim and in the future.” 

The shortage crisis was caused by a manufacturing recall and subsequent closure of a major manufacturing plant at Abbott Nutrition. In February 2022, an Abbott Nutrition facility voluntarily recalled several infant formula products (including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to consumers not to use these recalled products. 

Abbott Nutrition’s recall is particularly alarming as its formula products serve 89 percent of all infants participating in WIC, according to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. 

Representative Michelle Steele (CA-48) is also an original sponsor of the Access to Baby Formula Act.

To read the bill text for the Access to Baby Formula Act, click here

To learn more about the Access to Baby Formula Act, click here.


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