Abbott is restarting an infant formula facility due to contamination

WASHINGTON – Abbott Nutrition has resumed production at its Michigan infant formula plant, which has been closed for months due to contamination, the company said Saturday, taking a step towards easing a nationwide supply bottleneck expected to last into the summer.

The closure of the country’s largest formula factory in February led to thissupply problemswhich have forced some parents to seek formula from food banks, friends and doctor’s offices.

Abbott said it will first prioritize production of its EleCare specialty formula for infants with severe food allergies and digestive issues who have few other feeding options. The company said it will be about three weeks before the new formula from the plant shows up on store shelves.

“We will ramp up production as quickly as possible while meeting all requirements,” Abbott said in a statement.

The reopening of the plant is one of several federal measures intended to improve supply in the coming weeks. President Joe Biden’s government has been relaxedimport rulesfor foreign manufacturersflownFormula from Europe and called federalemergency rulesto prioritize US production.

Abbott closed Sturgis, MichiganFactoryin 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 also states that its products have not been directly linked to infections involving different strains of bacteria.

FDA inspectors eventually uncovered a variety of violations at the facility, including bacterial contamination, a leaky roof and lax safety protocols. The FDA came under intense scrutiny because it took them months to close the facility and then negotiate its reopening. Agency leaders recently told Congress they needed to reach a legally binding agreement with Abbott to ensure all issues were resolved.

Abbott’s February recall of several leading brands, including Similac, has put pressure on supplieswas already tensethrough supply chain and warehousing disruptions during COVID-19 shutdowns.

The shortage was worst for children with allergies, digestive problems and metabolic disorders who depend on special foods. The Abbott factory is theonly sourceof many of those products, which federal officials say are feeding about 5,000 US babies.

Abbott is one of just four companies that make about 90% of the U.S. formula. The recalls and company closure triggered a cascade of effects: retailers have restricted customer purchases to conserve supplies and parents have been told to switch brands to the in-stock formula.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califfrecently told lawmakersIt could take about two months for baby food stocks to return to normal levels. The agency has waived many of its regulatory requirements to accept more formulas from the UK, Australia and other countries.

US manufacturers, including Reckitt and Gerber, have also increased production, running plants around the clock and sourcing more formula from alternative facilities.

https://fox2now.com/news/national/abbott-restarts-baby-formula-plant-linked-to-contamination/ Abbott is restarting an infant formula facility due to contamination

Nate Jones

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