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Senate OKs overhaul of baby formula rules for WIC

Katherine Gibson-Haynes
Posted at 2:31 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 17:31:51-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved a bill aimed at easing the baby formula shortage for families participating in a government assistance program known as WIC.

That program accounts for about half of all formula purchases in the U.S.

The House had passed the bill the day before, so it now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The vouchers can generally only be used to purchase one brand of infant formula, which encourages the manufacturer to offer big discounts to secure a state’s business.

The bill makes it possible for families to redeem the WIC vouchers for whatever formula brand is available.

There is hope that the formula shortage could begin to ease in the coming weeks.

An Abbott plant in Michigan that closed in February due to possible contamination could reopen in one to two weeks, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf told lawmakers on Thursday.

The Abbott plant’s closure has been cited among the reasons for a shortage in formula.

Abbott issued a recall and closed the facility after two infants died and two others were treated for cronobacter. Abbott said cronobacter was discovered in the plant, but not in areas that would come in contact with the formula.

Abbott said it could be weeks before production is back to where it was before closing.

Meanwhile, the FDA is working on allowing foreign-made formula to enter the U.S. market.