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Officials say formula shipments will help Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis is the first city in America to receive a shipment of baby formula produced under the Defense Production Act.

The act allows the president to require businesses to produce materials that are in short supply. In this case, baby formula.

Typical commercial production of baby formula could take a couple weeks. The formula was produced at Nestle’s plant in Zurich Switzerland and flown to Indiana Sunday.

“I’m told this shipment provides enough formula to take care of 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week,” Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said.

The shipment won’t go to store shelves. It’s designed for infants who have an intolerance or allergy to baby formula sold in stores.

After being off-loaded from a military transport plane, the product was taken to a Nestle distribution center in Plainfield.

“Then it’s going to go on trucks, and it’s going to be delivered in hospitals and home health care clinics all across the country,” Vilsack said.

An estimated 17,000 children in Indiana will benefit from this particular type of formula.

“If a baby was allergic to milk protein, which is what happened with some of these kiddos, they can present with things like vomiting, or electro abnormalities, or even their bellies can get swollen,” Dr. Emily Webber of Riley Children’s Hospital said.

Secretary Vilsack defended his agency’s response to the formula shortage.

He said the USDA began helping agencies under the Women Infants and Children’s nutrition program, find formula after a plant that makes the product in Michigan shut down.