Democrats launch investigation into baby formula shortage as Biden meets with manufacturers
Joe Biden (Brendan Smialowski AFP/File)

House Democrats on the powerful Oversight Committee are launching an investigation into the nationwide baby formula shortage, one day after President Joe Biden met with the industry's top manufacturers.

"The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities across the country—particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health inequities, including food insecurity," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote in letters to Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA and Perrigo," ABC News was first to report Friday.

On Thursday President Biden met with infant formula manufacturer executives and top retailers including Target, Walmart and Nestle's Gerber, Reuters reports, "pressing them to do everything possible to get families access amid a nationwide shortage."

Also on Thursday the White House released a statement outlining steps the administration is taking to help families. They include cutting red tape to get more product on store shelves, addressing price gouging via the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general, and working through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase imported formula.

"Tight supplies of formula dwindled further after Abbott Laboratories in February recalled Similac and other baby formula made at its Sturgis, Michigan, plant following consumer complaints of bacterial contamination," Reuters also reports. "The FDA later cited five bacterial infections reported in babies given the company's formula, including two deaths."

Republicans have tried to blame the Biden administration for the shortage, despite it not being caused by the federal government. It has been partially exacerbated by a trade deal negotiated by then-President Donald Trump that makes it more difficult and expensive to import formula from other countries.