By John Ubaldi, “Ubaldi Reports”

A year ago, the nation was dealing with the shortage of baby formula and its detrimental impact on infant children, but despite it having faded from the media and the political powers in Washington, but the crisis still continues.

On Tuesday the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) will call on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide all relative documents and any and all communications relating to the FDA’s handling of the infant formula crisis.

The committee is seeking answers to the mishandling and slow response by the Biden administration’s to the shortage of baby formula, as the crisis first began in the fall of 2021, the shortage of baby formula still persists to this day.

The crisis first began when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shut down Abbott Laboratories, a mega baby food formula manufacturer that produces around 40% of all baby food formula in the country over unsanitary conditions.

The FDA shut down Abbott in February 2022, after various brands were recalled due to complaints after four infants fell severely ill from dangerous bacteria from ingesting the powdered form of the baby formula. The FDA then launched an investigation which included an onsite inspection, as earlier tests had found bacteria at Abbott’s facilities.

The focus has been on the closure of Abbott’s facilities in February, but this crisis began in the fall of 2021, far earlier than initially reported or known to the American public.

Starting in September 2021 through February 2022, the CDC received various reports of the Cronobacter bacteria cases in infants in Minnesota, Ohio and Texas, which resulted in four illnesses with two deaths of two infants. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the FDA ultimately concluded its findings on the consumption of powdered infant formula produced by Abbott in its Sturgis, Michigan plant. This ushered in a worldwide recall of formula which had been produced; unfortunately this led to bare shelves in the U.S. and forced parents to scramble for safe alternatives to feed their infant children.

The bacteria in question according to the CDC is Cronbacter which can cause severe, life-threatening infections or meningitis, the infections typically are rare, but can be extremely deadly for newborns in first days or weeks of life with mortality rates hovering between 50% and 80%.

Typically only a small number of Cronobacter infections are reported each year, but given only the state of Minnesota requires labs to report positive tests, there is no way to ascertain how many cases were missed.

For two years the FDA had no on-site inspections of Abbott facilities and it wasn’t until September 2021 that the FDA returned for inspections. Once the FDA did return to the Abbott facility they found several problematic concerns that could lead to formula contamination, such as, Abbott failing to “maintain a building used in the manufacture, processing, packing or holding of infant formula in a clean and sanitary condition.”

A confidential whistleblower sent a document to top FDA officials in October 2021 over serious failures to protect the safety of baby formula.  Democrat U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut stated, “I am deeply concerned about the practices at this Abbott facility and their apparent failure to implement and enforce internal controls at this facility. We need to know exactly who in the company was aware of this failure and the alleged attempts to hide this information from the FDA,”

Ironically during this entire period the FDA didn’t have a permeate director until February of 2022, when Robert Califf was confirmed by the Senate. This should have been a top priority since at the time the nation was in the midst of a pandemic, why wasn’t this a top priority for President Biden?

Various questions remain, such as once the FDA shut down the Abbott facility in Michigan in February why weren’t adequate plans established to replace the baby formula so there weren’t empty grocery store shelves?

Over a year later there is still a shortage of baby formula, and with prescient high inflation makes cost for baby formula extremely problematic for parents with infant children. One only has to feel for the challenges that mothers with infant children have to deal with, because those that have no other choice have to use baby formula. Many infants have specific dietary needs or can only handle a specific type of formula and have to go through four to five different types of infant formula just to find the right formula for their infant child. The average cost of baby formula is around $25-35 per can.

For over a year of this crisis we have heard very little from Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Marie Raimondo, Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh, Health and Human Secretary Xavier Becerra, and finally FDA Director Robert Califf all have various overlaps of this serious issue?

Why hasn’t the media questioned Health and Human Secretary Xavier Becerra since the FDA reports directly to him?

Considering in November of 2021 reports were coming in that baby formula inventories were declining at grocery stores throughout the country, why did administration at the various agencies with oversight and responsibility ignore these reports?

As the crisis was reaching its crescendo, then Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the Biden administration was sending pallets of baby formula to be transferred to the border to deal with the illegal migrant surge. Why was baby formula sent to the border but not to local grocery stores?

On Tuesday, there will be the first hearings on this serious issue; the interesting question is why didn’t the Democrats hold any hearings on this crisis since they controlled both branches of Congress in 2021 and 2022?

Financial Services Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) stated that “Now more than a year after this crisis began, the Biden Administration continues to fail parents and caretakers across the country as they are still struggling to find infant formula to feed their babies, with no end in sight. American families deserve answers as to why the Food and Drug Administration and the Biden Administration ignored watchdog warnings for months, ultimately making the crisis worse. We are going to conduct oversight of the FDA and be sure we take steps to prevent another avoidable crisis like this from happening again,”

President Biden seems to always be reacting to events instead of being proactive, remember we were told at the beginning of the Biden administration that we now have the adults in charge of the government, then why has Biden lurched from crisis to crisis?