The first shipment of foreign-produced infant formula imported under “Operation Fly Formula” is scheduled to touch down in the U.S. on Sunday.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be on hand to receive 132 pallets of formula produced by Switzerland’s Nestle S.A. set to arrive in Indianapolis, the White House said Saturday.
This shipment includes bottles of both Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula, which the administration prioritized due to the “critical medical purpose” they serve.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered military aircraft to transport the shipment from Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
The administration announced Thursday that it had sourced 1.5 million bottles of formula from Nestle under the program.
The administration stood up Operation Fly Formula to streamline foreign formula imports and announced the program Wednesday along with invoking the defense production act to stem the ongoing formula shortage.
Under the program, the Health and Human Services and Agriculture departments will use Pentagon-contracted commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards.
The move lets the carriers bypass regular air-freight routes, which the White House says will speed up final delivery to store shelves.
The invocation of the Defense Production Act will require suppliers to prioritize sending resources to formula producers ahead of other customers.
The formula shortage has added to the compounding crises, including inflation and soaring gas prices, that have posed relentless political challenges for the administration and Democrats on the Hill.
Party leaders have sought to shed blame pointing fingers at the leading domestic formula producer, Abbott Nutrition, for the scarcity.
The FDA shuttered Abbott’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan, in February citing safety and quality issues after four infants became sick, two of whom died.
Abbott officials deny that their product was responsible for the infants’ illness, but issued a recall of its formula anyway. The company says it is now ready to open its plant.