Berlin Airlift in Reverse: U.S. Flying Baby Formula From Germany

AP Photo/Eric Gay

In June 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded the partitioned city of Berlin, hoping to force the recently victorious allies to leave.

It didn’t work. “Operation VITTLES,” a military airlift of hundreds of tons of food, medicine, and other supplies, kept the Soviets from their goal. For more than a year, hundreds of planes flew in supplies to the isolated city until they finally relented.


Related: Biden’s ‘Operation Fly Formula’ an Unnecessary PR Stunt

There’s some irony in the news today about U.S. military planes flying baby formula from Germany to Indiana. Only this time, the threat isn’t from a foreign power. The threat is from the criminal incompetence of the Biden administration, which ignored the baby formula crisis for months until the media began to report on it.

Stars and Stripes:

More than 130 pallets filled with formula departed for Indianapolis on a C-17 aircraft a little after 5 a.m. Germany time as part of Operation Fly Formula. Each pallet of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula held over 430 of the 14.1-ounce containers of formula, labels on the packaging showed.

Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula are expected to arrive soon, the White House said in a statement Thursday, adding that the equivalent of up to 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas will be delivered.

The crisis began in early February when the FDA discovered a rare kind of bacteria that may have contaminated some formula that ended up sickening four infants. It was never established that the bacteria came from the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis, Mich. But there were some other problems with sanitation at the plant, and it was shuttered.


From February on, the clock was ticking on this crisis. And the Biden administration was asleep at the wheel.

All of the measures taken by the White House to deal with this crisis, including the president invoking the Defense Production Act and this latest public relations stunt to deliver a few dozen pallets of formula to America, won’t adequately address the immediate crisis.

Simply put, the Biden administration was caught flat-footed and wasn’t ready.


There aren’t any fundamental problems with producing baby formula. How do we know? Europeans, Japanese, and Australians are producing it just fine. There’s only a baby-formula shortage in the United States, and it’s because the United States government has adopted policies that allowed what should have been a relatively minor market disruption to turn into a widespread, prolonged shortage.

Instead of allowing parents to buy foreign formula as they would buy any other good, the Biden administration is making a big show of airlifting it here with specially contracted flights. The United States of America should not be dependent on airlifts for an adequate supply of baby formula. As Eric Boehm pointed out for Reason, if foreign brands of baby formula are safe to be airlifted now, they should be available for purchase all the time. It’s clear that the 98-percent-domestic baby-formula market leaves Americans vulnerable to supply shocks that the rest of the world doesn’t face.


No “supply bottlenecks” or “disruptions” caused this crisis. The shortage isn’t the fault of the pandemic wreaking havoc on the supply chains.

The administration didn’t start addressing this crisis until earlier this month despite having a lead time of at least 2.5 months. But the media continues to run interference for the doddering old fool in the White House because they’d rather assist in Biden’s lies than do anything to make the president’s political problems worse.



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