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Author Topic: The Baby Formula  (Read 737 times)

Ben

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The Baby Formula
« on: May 23, 2022, 10:10:28 AM »

Good comments on this baby formula fiasco.

https://twitchy.com/samj-3930/2022/05/23/cant-make-this-sht-up-eric-swalwells-curse-filled-victory-lap-over-biden-begging-europe-for-baby-formula-does-not-go-well/

Caused by government regulations, then "saved" in the most inefficient way possible, by said government.

I read what I consider a valid point elsewhere. Instead of going through this whole boondoggle thing, the President could have, in five minutes, signed an executive order (I mean, he loves his EOs) to order the FDA to allow the import of the formula, then let Amazon and whoever else go to town, so that people could just point and click to buy some, instead of having to go through some government distribution center that will take days or weeks instead of next day Prime.
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Jim147

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2022, 10:12:54 AM »

Can't let that tax money sit around and we need keep inflation hot.
Sometimes we carry more weight then we owe.
And sometimes goes on and on and on.

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zahc

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2022, 12:32:22 PM »

So what happened to cause the original shortage?
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Ben

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2022, 12:55:16 PM »

So what happened to cause the original shortage?

My understanding is that a major producer (like 40% of US formula) had to temporarily shut down to correct some FDA regulations/standards stuff.
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dogmush

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2022, 01:01:03 PM »

My understanding is that a major producer (like 40% of US formula) had to temporarily shut down to correct some FDA regulations/standards stuff.


It was more than just "some FDA regulations/standards stuff".....

In February, Abbott closed its infant formula plant in Michigan after the Food and Drug Administration found contamination at the facility from the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii. Four infants who ate powered formula from the plant were hospitalized with Cronobacter, two of whom died.

While Abbott (or it's lawyers) claim that there is no proof their formula caused the sickness they recalled a bunch of formula.

As I recall, they are still mot in compliance with food safety laws, but the FDA is letting them open the Sturgis plant early because of the shortage, as long as they have a plan in place to reach compliance.

WLJ

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2022, 01:08:24 PM »

Quote
In February, Abbott closed its infant formula plant in Michigan after the Food and Drug Administration found contamination at the facility from the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii. Four infants who ate powered formula from the plant were hospitalized with Cronobacter, two of whom died.

What I read.

What really bothers me is how one factory closing is causing this much disruption. Makes me wonder of there's something else going on they're not telling us.
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Ben

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2022, 01:12:51 PM »

Okay, noted.

Still, I'd like to know what the holdup was for approving formula from Germany. Or any dozen other first world countries that must have manufacturing standards equal to or higher than the US for their formula manufacturers. Seems there should have been a more efficient way to import and distribute formula without resorting to the military.

I saw an interview last week with the CEO of one of the bigger supermarket chains who said they had reached a deal with a German manufacturer but were stuck waiting for the FDA to sign off on it.
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K Frame

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2022, 01:36:55 PM »

Are we talking about a formula for feeding them?

Or aborting them?

Seems to me they're working towards the second by ignoring the first...
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HankB

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2022, 02:05:55 PM »

What I read.

What really bothers me is how one factory closing is causing this much disruption. Makes me wonder of there's something else going on they're not telling us.
It seems to me that if a factory had a bacteria problem, it SHOULD be resolvable in a couple of weeks - shut everything down, sterilize the living daylights out of everything in the building, then resume production and monitor things real, real closely for a while. But now, months later . . . still shut down. I, too, wonder if there's something else going on they're not telling us. (Same doubts I have about ammo shortages and price runups.)
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WLJ

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2022, 02:21:35 PM »

It seems to me that if a factory had a bacteria problem, it SHOULD be resolvable in a couple of weeks - shut everything down, sterilize the living daylights out of everything in the building, then resume production and monitor things real, real closely for a while. But now, months later . . . still shut down. I, too, wonder if there's something else going on they're not telling us. (Same doubts I have about ammo shortages and price runups.)

I just posted that recall on Jif peanut butter for salmonella and I wonder how long they will shut that factory down. A week or two?
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dogmush

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2022, 02:55:47 PM »

Okay, noted.

Still, I'd like to know what the holdup was for approving formula from Germany. Or any dozen other first world countries that must have manufacturing standards equal to or higher than the US for their formula manufacturers. Seems there should have been a more efficient way to import and distribute formula without resorting to the military.


I have no idea, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet there's some kind of protectionary law or regulation that makes it harder for foreign formula to be certified.  It was probably buried in some other bill back in the 70's as payout to a special interest and no one even remembered it until they tried to bring offshore formula in.  50/50 Biden voted for the original bill.

MechAg94

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2022, 04:37:14 PM »

I just posted that recall on Jif peanut butter for salmonella and I wonder how long they will shut that factory down. A week or two?
I bet it depends on whether they can find the source of the contamination, and prove that is what did it. 

Blue Bell in Brenham, TX was shut down for a while.  It took time for them to figure out the source as it was some cavity in the middle of one of the process machines that couldn't be accessed (what I heard at least).  Probably took time to modify the machines after that. 

All of that is assuming it isn't just a paperwork issue.

For the foreign sourse, the FDA always wants to know the full history of the product.  It isn't always enough to show that it is current okay.  You have to prove each step from raw material to finished product. 
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charby

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2022, 07:07:02 PM »

When Maytag blue cheese did a recall due to listeria found in one of the lots, I think it was close to a year before product was available again.
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zxcvbob

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2022, 08:35:36 PM »

I know cow's milk is not that great for infants.  What's wrong with goat's milk and baby vitamins with iron?  Probably not ideal, but the kid's not going to starve.  (perhaps there's not enough goat milk available)
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sumpnz

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2022, 11:09:59 PM »

Goats milk is fine for those nearing the end of needing formula.  Not great for newborns or young infants.  But there a tiny fraction of the cow milk supply, and it’s very expensive already.  Doubtful there’s be enough to go around for more than a few days even if newborns could handle it.  Cows milk causes plenty of problems until a kid is at least a year if not 2.

zahc

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2022, 09:24:08 AM »

It seems to me that if a factory had a bacteria problem, it SHOULD be resolvable in a couple of weeks - shut everything down, sterilize the living daylights out of everything in the building, then resume production and monitor things real, real closely for a while. But now, months later . . . still shut down. I, too, wonder if there's something else going on they're not telling us. (Same doubts I have about ammo shortages and price runups.)

Factories are not charities, even baby food ones. Factories are businesses and also run on as thin of margins as possible. The factory owners don't actually have any obligation to do anything. They are going to do what makes the most business sense, and losing a certain amount of low-margin output is just weighted against the costs of coming into compliance. There's no reason to think that bringing the factory up quickly is actually urgent for them. Urgent for their customers maybe, but not a business imperative. They aren't going to dig deep in their pockets and max out their cards out of concern.

Heck, don't be surprised if they decide to just fold the whole operation permanently. Almost all such factories are run on shoestring profits and I'm sure they are hit by staffing, input cost, and real estate pressures like every other business. They might not be able to absorb a shutdown at all.
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WLJ

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2022, 09:31:00 AM »

I'm still suspicious one factory shutdown could cause this much of a disruption.
How many BF factories are there in the US? It would kind of scare me if we're relying on only a handful for the whole country. Would make it an easy mark for someone wanting to mess with the US. A couple of bombs or even just contaminants here and there and you could have a major disruption and panic like what we're seeing right now.
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zahc

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2022, 09:47:22 AM »

I'm still suspicious one factory shutdown could cause this much of a disruption.
How many BF factories are there in the US? It would kind of scare me if we're relying on only a handful for the whole country. Would make it an easy mark for someone wanting to mess with the US. A couple of bombs or even just contaminants here and there and you could have a major disruption and panic like what we're seeing right now.

I think our entire economy is that way. It would not surprise me at all if there is one or two relevant factories. In fact, the market usually results in a monopoly or at most duopoly, especially for high volume, low margin goods. We no longer have breweries in every town. Instead there's a few giant ones and we truck things across the country. The market has evolved to do that because the consumer has prioritized the lowest price.

Think of it this way, if a factory can shut down and NOT cause a supply disruption, that means they were producing more formula than could be consumed. Why would they produce more formula than needed, which nobody would buy? Who would pay for that over production? Nobody. So it's inevitable that any shutdown will cause a disruption. The market solution is a lean supply chain so that prices on the shelf rise quickly and other plants can start up or ramp up quickly to fill the supply gap. If supply is still too inelastic, presumably a contracts and futures market will arise to help (and I'm sure there already are such markets operating in the formula supply chain). There's no other market solution. If it's sufficiently important, potentially the government could buy a certain percentage of the output and destroy it. That's close to what we do with certain agriculture markets and defense markets. Any other government solution would probably make things worse by raising costs without actually improving supply flexibility.
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Pb

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2022, 10:06:50 AM »

A greater number of smaller factories would probably help- if one had to shut down, there would be less disruption.

Ben

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2022, 10:12:04 AM »

I'm still suspicious one factory shutdown could cause this much of a disruption.
How many BF factories are there in the US? It would kind of scare me if we're relying on only a handful for the whole country. Would make it an easy mark for someone wanting to mess with the US. A couple of bombs or even just contaminants here and there and you could have a major disruption and panic like what we're seeing right now.

I think a lot of problems we have are that many "factories" and "manufacturers" are nothing more than distribution centers, all selling their branded products made at the same actual factory.
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French G.

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2022, 11:05:20 AM »

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2022, 11:06:05 AM »

My supply chain colleagues know more about this than I do, but for certain medical equipment and supplies, there can be astonishingly few places in the United States that make them.
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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2022, 02:04:27 PM »

How to sterilize:
 
Put crew in moon suits. Use pressure washers with high temperature bleach.
 
It works.
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French G.

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2022, 07:58:27 AM »

How to sterilize:
 
Put crew in moon suits. Use pressure washers with high temperature bleach.
 
It works.

Getting to the root of the problem trace back all the steps in the supply chain of the ingredients. Tear down and sanitize the entire line from the spot where the ingredients come on site to where they leave in formula cans. Fix all sorts of obscure maintenance issues, does a bird poop on the roof on the other side of the building and then rainwater runs through the gutter, leaks in a wall, traces down three other walls and then drip on the product? Training and review of procedures to ensure contamination is not being introduced by workers. Running the line in parts, testing everything, throwing it all out, repeat. Run the line end to end and test some more. Throw that all out. Bring in the outside inspector and repeat. Pay ad agency cubic billions to say how safe you are. Maybe get FDA approval and return to market.

I looked at formula yesterday and Abbot brands are the last to be bought even though the ones there had zero to do with the recall. Consumers are fickle panicked things.
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WLJ

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Re: The Baby Formula
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2022, 08:09:08 AM »

Yeah, you don't know where in the supply chain the contamination originated. Could go back as far as a picker pooping in the field while on the job.
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