Last Updated on May 22, 2022
A now-deleted tweet from the official Presidential Twitter account (@POTUS) badly misrepresented the amount of baby formula being imported from Europe.
Official @POTUS account tweets the U.S. is receiving 70,000 tons of baby formula. Actually it’s 70,000 pounds, so less than 40 tons. Now deleted. Not before it was spread by various blue checks.
Good thing the Disinformation board was disbanded… pic.twitter.com/dXckJGCKKw
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) May 22, 2022
Before the tweet was deleted, major corporate media outlets ran with the 70,000-ton figure in the tweet. However, much to the disappointment of those seeking baby formula, 70,000 tons is 2,000 times more than the actual figure of 70,000 pounds. Since the tweet was deleted and revised, media outlets have largely corrected their reports as well.
According to a report in Reuters, the shipment of formula will only help several thousand children. “This particular formula is for a very, very small percentage of children. Roughly 17,000 children in the country basically are the beneficiaries of this particular formula,” according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
A shortage of baby formula has taken center stage in the discourse as well is in the minds of many Americans, especially parents of young children. While there has been shortages of many goods in the past year or so, the current baby formula shortage has created perhaps the biggest uproar. According to a Market Research Report from April 2019 during the latter years of the Trump Administration, the US supply of baby formula was “in the state of excess capacity.”
In May 2022, where it is available, baby formula costs an average of about 40% more than it did in 2019.
As is the case with many of the shortages being experienced, the cause is rooted in heavy-handed pandemic restrictions. One of the largest producers of baby formula in the US is Abbott Nutrition, which is located in Michigan, a state that experienced some of the nation’s strictest lockdowns and other Covid-related restrictions. Another major factor involving this producer was an instance of contamination, which could have been prevented, according to the FDA. Deficiencies were noted during FDA inspections of the plant in 2019 and 2021.
The 70,000-pound shipment of formula will depart from Nestlé S.A. in Zurich, Switzerland and arrive in Plainfield, Indiana, where it will then be distributed to stores.