As the shortage worsens, Abbott says it can get baby formula back on shelves in June

Abbott Laboratories ABT,
said it may resume production of its baby formula at a Michigan plant within two weeks if U.S. regulators allow it.

The company voluntarily recalled powder formulations containing Alimentum, EleCare and Similac in February because of possible contamination with an environmental bacterium called Cronobacter sakazakii.

Two babies died and two others became ill after being fed formulas made at the Sturgis, Michigan plant. However, Abbott said in a statement Wednesday that “there is no evidence that our formulas are associated with these infant diseases” and the genetics sequencing of samples from two sick infants did not match the Cronobacter strains detected at the facility .

The recall has caused a baby food shortage in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises parents not to feed babies Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare powdered formulas. Some parents ration formula, water it down, or try to make their own. according to media reports.

“We know the recall has exacerbated a pre-existing industry-wide infant formula shortage in the United States, and we have seen and heard the stress and desperation of parents standing in front of empty shelves,” the company said. “We deeply regret the situation.”

Abbott said it was addressing the Food and Drug Administration’s issues with the facility and was flying in Similac from Ireland. If the FDA approves reopening the Sturgis facility, Abbott’s plan would be to begin production of EleCare, Alimentum, and metabolic formulas first, then Similac and other formulas.

The company estimates that it will take between six and eight weeks for the products to be back on store shelves.

The recall also impacted the company’s financial performance in the first quarter. Sales in the U.S. nutrition business collapsed 19% to $1.9 billion in the first three months of the year.

Abbott stock closed Tuesday at $106.75, one of its lows over the past year. The stock is down 24.1% so far this year, while the broader S&P 500 SPX,
fell by 16.0%.

Read more about the baby food recall:

The lack of baby food doesn’t mean you should make your own. Here’s why.

The FDA describes problems at the Abbott plant behind the recalled baby formula

Abbott is recalling some Similac and other baby formula powders due to salmonella and cronobacter complaints As the shortage worsens, Abbott says it can get baby formula back on shelves in June

Brian Lowry

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