Production resumes at struggling Abbott formula factory
Infant formula production has resumed at Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan plant, whose shutdown in February due to contamination contributed to a nationwide shortage, a company spokesperson said.
Damage from severe thunderstorms, including flooding, had forced the Sturgis plant to halt operations in mid-June just two weeks after restarting production with additional disinfection and safety protocols.
Production of EleCare, a specialty formula for infants with severe food allergies and digestive issues, was restored at Sturgis after a July 1 restart, Abbott spokesman John Koval said.
“We are working to restart Similac production as soon as possible. We will provide more information when we have it,” he said by email.
Abbott recalled several major infant formula brands in February, including Similac. This supply shortage has already been strained by supply chain disruptions and storage during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
The shortage was more severe for children with allergies, digestive issues and metabolic disorders who rely on specialized formulas.
President Joe Biden’s administration has since relaxed import rules for foreign manufacturers, airlifted the formula from Europe and invoked federal emergency rules to prioritize U.S. production.
Abbott is one of only four companies that produce about 90% of the American formula. Koval declined to say how much of Abbot’s overall US supply of infant formula is produced at the Sturgis plant.
The plant was shut down in February after the Food and Drug Administration began investigating four bacterial infections in infants who consumed powdered formula from the plant. Two of the babies died. The company says its products have not been directly linked to infections, which involved different bacterial strains.
FDA inspectors eventually uncovered a slew of violations at the plant, including bacterial contamination, a leaky roof, and lax safety protocols.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to help foreign infant formula makers who sent supplies, under emergency approval to address the shortage, obtain long-term authorization. to market their preparation in the United States. The plan is to provide American consumers with more choices and make supplies more resilient to current or future shortages.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and Susan Mayne, director of the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement that the closure of the Sturgis plant “aggravated by natural weather events unforeseen, showed how vulnerable the supply chain is. became.”
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