Buttigieg Goes After Abbott Labs on Baby Formula

Transportation chief, who has infant twins, says the nationwide shortage is 'very personal'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2022 11:00 AM CDT
Buttigieg: Baby Formula Shortage 'Very Personal'
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – Parents nationwide are scrambling to find baby formula amid a national shortage, and the issue is familiar to one high-ranking member of the Biden administration. "This is very personal for us," Department of Transportation chief Pete Buttigieg told Face the Nation Sunday on CBS. "We've got two 9-month-old children—baby formula is a very big part of our lives." As the Washington Post notes, Buttigieg aggressively went after the company Abbott Nutrition, an industry giant which has had to shut down a production plant and issue a recall after safety concerns.

"Fundamentally, we are here because a company was not able to guarantee that its plant was safe. And that plant has shut down," said Buttigieg. Asked about the government's role in all this, Buttigieg again pointed to Abbott, per the Hill. "This is a capitalist country," he said. "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."

Abbott issued a recall after four illnesses, including two deaths, but it has previously said in a statement that "there is no evidence to link our formulas to these infant illnesses." The company is one of only four major manufacturers of baby formula in the US, notes the Post, and it is awaiting federal approval to reopen its Michigan plant. The larger problem here stems from the fact that "the baby formula market exists as a shared monopoly" among these few companies, per a Fortune analysis. (Buttigieg and his husband adopted their twins last year.)

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