Reps. Porter, McClain Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Another Infant Formula Shortage Crisis
Legislation would strengthen contamination reporting requirements for formula manufacturers
Washington, August 29, 2023
Today, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Oversight Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services, and Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) introduced a bipartisan bill that would help prevent another infant formula crisis.
The Safeguarding Kids and Families from Critical Food Shortages Act would require formula manufacturers to report to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within 24 hours any time their infant formula gets contaminated by a pathogen. Porter’s questioning at a March Oversight hearing revealed that under current law, manufacturers are only required to report contaminations to the FDA if they ship out a contaminated product—but not if the formula is still in the factory. This inhibits manufacturers and the FDA from working together in real time to prevent contaminations from becoming crises.
“Both a major formula manufacturer and the responsible government watchdog let parents down last year by failing to catch bacterial contamination until it was too late,” said Rep. Porter. “To give parents peace of mind and to prevent another bacterial outbreak from devolving into a disaster, my Safeguarding Kids and Families from Critical Food Disruptions Act empowers the FDA and holds the agency accountable for getting answers from manufacturers. I’m grateful to Subcommittee Chair Lisa McClain for co-leading this bill with me, and I’m hopeful that the extremely bipartisan nature of our efforts will get this legislation over the finish line.”
“The infant formula shortage was an absolute crisis for mothers and babies throughout the country,” said Rep. McClain. “But let’s be clear, this crisis was preventable. We saw failures occur that should have never been possible, and we cannot allow them to happen again. I am proud to introduce the Safeguarding Kids and Families from Critical Food Disruptions Act with my colleague Rep. Katie Porter to pave the way for protecting mothers and children from dealing with another formula crisis.”
This spring, Reps. Porter and McClain convened two hearings to conduct oversight over last year’s infant formula crisis and identify avenues to prevent future shortages. In 2022, FDA reports indicated that Cronobacter contamination in infant formula may have made over 100 babies sick, leading to nine deaths. A subsequent recall of formula produced by Abbott Labs led to a nationwide shortage.
Reps. Porter and McClain’s Safeguarding Kids and Families from Critical Food Shortages Act also includes additional steps to hold both formula manufacturers and the FDA accountable. Following any report of contamination, the FDA’s Office of Critical Foods would be required under the legislation to work with manufacturers to take corrective action to resolve the contamination at its source, helping provide safe products and prevent potential shortages.
As a leading Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Rep. Porter has championed efforts to prevent another infant formula shortage. In a hearing earlier this year, she brought attention to the FDA’s lack of authority over the production of critical foods like infant formula. Rep. Porter also sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control, urging the agency to make Cronobacter a nationally-notifiable disease. Shortly after, a panel of scientists heeded Rep. Porter’s call, helping officials quickly identify and respond to future outbreaks. Rep. Porter has also called out consolidation in the industry, expressing concern that four companies control nearly 90% of the infant formula market.
Bill text is available HERE.