by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“We don’t have a food shortage problem,” then-candidate Joe Biden said just months after the COVID pandemic began in May 2020. “We have a leadership problem.”
Now that he is president, however, Biden is singing a different tune. Asked if he should have taken steps to address the nation’s baby formula shortages sooner, Biden replied, “If we had been better mind readers, I guess we could have.”
But the Biden administration never had to read minds. It had been informed of problems at a Michigan baby formula plant eight months ago, and in fact, the Food and Drug Administration issued a recall of formula from that same plant three months ago. Yet Biden never spoke of or acted to address the formula shortage until last Friday.
And yes, there is plenty he could have done.
For decades, American parents have bought baby formula from Europe and other developed countries for a number of reasons, including because foreign formulas are more natural and more nutritious than the highly synthetic domestic brands. The FDA, however, has recently clamped down on this illicit trade in baby formula, even creating a “red list” of brands for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to block in international trade.
It is not that the FDA has studied these formulas and determined that they are a danger to infants — quite the opposite. These are European Medicines Agency-inspected and approved brands that feed millions of babies in Europe. The problem the FDA has with foreign formula is the labeling. Many of the brands do not have English labels, and even when they do, they do not always list the exact nutrients that are required by FDA regulations.
Whatever sense these government regulations may have in regular times, they don’t make any sense in a time of domestic scarcity.