WASHINGTON, D.C. - While the U.S. continues to struggle with a shortage of baby formula, Senate Democrats have introduced a bill which aims to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater authority and more tools to prevent future shortages.

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U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in introducing the Protect Infants from Formula Shortages Act.

The bill would require formula manufacturers to notify the FDA of potential supply disruptions; there are currently no such notification systems in place. It would also direct manufacturers to develop “risk management plans” regarding their supply of products and give the FDA authority to request records in advance or instead of in-person inspections, according to a press release from Duckworth’s office.

Casey said it is his colleagues’ Congressional responsibility to ensure parents can safely feed their children.

“Parents and families across the country are feeling desperate and scared. There is no greater fear than not being able to feed your child or of feeding your child contaminated formula,” Casey said. “I am introducing the Protect Infants from Formula Shortages Act to avoid another massive disruption in availability of life-saving and life-sustaining formula and other products.”

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Gillibrand pointed out the statistical prominence of formula usage across the country.

“75 percent of babies in the United States are fed formula at some point in their first six months of life. So this is not just a problem for some babies, it’s a problem for the vast majority of infants and their families,” Gillibrand said. “This urgently needed bill will help prevent Americans from facing such a shortage again.”

Duckworth noted the shortage’s adverse effects on newborns as she voiced her support for the legislation.

“Our nation's infant formula shortage is alarming, and we must do all we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Duckworth said. “Shortages like these can have serious consequences for a child’s growth and development - especially in the first year of their life - and it’s unacceptable.

“That’s one of the many reasons I’m proud to join my colleagues in helping Senator Casey introduce our commonsense legislation to prevent these kinds of shortages in the future and support working families across the nation.”

A copy of the bill text is available here.

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