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Polis declares state emergency over infant formula shortage

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday that seeks to address the infant formula shortage in the state. 

The order declares a disaster emergency and makes emergency funds available to purchase and distribute human donor milk for free to families in need. The order comes one week after the Polis administration signed a partnership agreement with Mothers’ Milk Bank to help address the formula shortage. 

“Infant formula is a crucial source, and in some cases the only source, of nutrition and sustenance for countless infants,” the governor's order states. “The nationwide infant formula shortage is a disaster that threatens the lives of children throughout our state. It is incomprehensible that babies’ health is threatened by the formula shortage, and the State must ensure that donor human milk, which can be used in place of formula in many instances, is as accessible as possible for all families in need.”

The nation’s supply of infant formula has been inconsistent since February after Abbott Nutrition – the largest manufacturer of formula in the U.S. – shut down its plant in Sturgis, Michigan after a bacterial contamination was discovered. 

Lat week Abbott and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration entered into a consent decree to reopen the plant. However, the company said it would take “six to eight weeks” for their products to start hitting the shelves. 

In response, President Joe Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether large manufacturers like Abbott have been keeping formula from smaller retailers, CNBC reported

Gov. Polis’ order also urges Attorney General Phil Weiser and local district attorneys to investigate any instances of alleged price gouging and prosecute retailers under the Consumer Protection Act. 

“While the federal government is working to address the nationwide infant formula shortage, the State must also act to protect the health and safety of children in Colorado,” the order said.