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Senate approves overhaul of infant formula rules in aid program


WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved a bill to ease the shortage of infant formula for families participating in a government assistance program that accounts for about half of all formula purchased in the United States.

The House passed the bill the day before, so it is now up to President Biden to sign it into law.

Participants in a program known as WIC receive vouchers that are redeemed for specific foods to supplement their diet. Vouchers can generally only be used to purchase one brand of infant formula, which encourages the manufacturer to offer deep discounts to secure a state’s business.

The bill allows the Department of Agriculture, in extenuating circumstances, to waive certain requirements so that WIC participants can purchase any brand available.

“Now millions of parents will have an easier time finding the formula they need,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said after the bill passed.

Also on Thursday, the administration said the Department of Defense was working to book commercial planes to fly about 246 pallets of Nestle Formula from Zurich, Switzerland, to Plainfield, Indiana.

Shipments will include the equivalent of up to 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three formulas – Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junio ​​and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA, all hypoallergenic formulas for children with milk protein allergies. cow. The White House has said this is a priority because they serve an essential medical purpose and are in short supply.

Lawmakers are also considering beefing up the Food and Drug Administration with a $28 emergency spending bill. That legislation also passed the House this week, but faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.

The shortage of infant formula was caused by the closure for safety reasons of the country’s largest infant formula manufacturing plant. The FDA chief told lawmakers on Thursday that the plant could be operational as early as next week.

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