Mayor Pete Admits Huge Problem With Baby Formula Shortage

( A lot of blame has been thrown around for the massive and problematic shortage of baby formula.

Over the weekend, Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation, placed the blame in the laps of Abbott Laboratories, one of the major manufacturers. Appearing on the “Face the Nation” program on Sunday, Buttigieg said the situation was fundamentally caused “because a company was not able to guarantee that its plant was safe.”

The host of the show, Margaret Brennan, fired back at the transportation secretary, say it’s “the federal government’s job as regulators to help ensure safety of the plant.”

But, Buttigieg replied:

“As regulators, yes, but let’s be very clear: This is a capitalist country. The government does not make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make formula. And one of those companies, a company which, by the way, seems to have 40% market share, messed up and is unable to confirm that a plant — a major plant — is safe and free of contamination.”

The Abbott plant located in Sturgis, Michigan, was shut down by the Food and Drug Administration back in February. That was due to them finding Cronobacter, a bacteria, in four different infants who had consumed baby formula that was produced at that plant. Two of those infants died.

The Washington Post reported that the investigation into the incident is still going on.

Still, Abbott countered what the White House has been saying about their plant. On Friday, they posted a Twitter thread, on which they wrote “a comprehensive investigation by Abbott, FDA and CDC found no evidence that our formulas caused infant illnesses.”

They also wrote that the bacteria in question was only found in “non-product contact areas of the facility.” Further, “genetic sequencing on the two available samples from ill infants did not match strains of Cronobacter in our plant.”

“The most important thing to do right now,” according to Buttigieg, is to re-open the plant in Sturgis as quickly and safely as possible. Even when that’s done, though, the company said it would likely take months before they’re able to full re-stock shelves in stores of their baby formula products.

In the meantime, the Biden administration has been trying to increase the production of the product at other companies to make up for the extreme shortage caused by the Abbott shutdown.

Brennan questioned Buttigieg on the federal government’s role, since the WIC program — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — has contracts with the manufacturers of baby formula.

She said “this isn’t just a private sector problem … [because] the federal government is directly involved in some of these arrangements.”

Buttigieg apparently would have none of that, though. He deflected, placing the blame back on Abbott. He said:

“A plant shutting down because a company can’t assure that it is physically safe from contamination is the responsibility of the company. The responsibility of the regulator is to ensure, as they take steps to get it ready, that it will in fact be safe when it comes back online.”