Abbot Nutrition resumes baby formula production at Michigan plant that was shutdown due to contamination leading to shortage

NEW YORK CITY – Baby formula production has resumed at Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan factory, whose closure in February due to contamination contributed to a nationwide shortage, a company spokesman said.

Damage from severe thunderstorms, including flooding, had forced the Sturgis plant to halt operations in mid-June, just two weeks after production resumed with additional disinfection and safety protocols.

Production of EleCare, a specialty formula for infants with severe food allergies and digestive problems, resumed at Sturgis after a July 1 restart, Abbott spokesman John Koval said.

“We are working to resume Similac production as soon as possible. We will provide more information as soon as we have it,” he said via email.

Abbott recalled several leading infant formula brands in February, including Similac. These scarce supplies have already been strained by supply chain disruptions and warehousing during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The deficiency was worst in children with allergies, digestive problems and metabolic disorders who depend on special foods.

President Joe Biden’s administration has since relaxed import rules for foreign manufacturers, flown formulas out of Europe and invoked federal emergency rules to prioritize US production.

Abbott is one of only four companies that make about 90% of the U.S. formula. Koval declined to say how much of Abbot’s total US infant formula supply is made at the Sturgis plant.

The facility closed 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 the infections, which involved 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.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to help foreign infant formula manufacturers who have sent supplies fix the shortage under an emergency authorization to gain long-term approval to market their formula in the United States and make more choices the supply more resilient to current or future shortages.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and Susan Mayne, the director of the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement that the closure of the Sturgis plant, “compounded by unforeseen natural weather events, has shown how vulnerable the supply chain has become.”

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Abbot Nutrition resumes baby formula production at Michigan plant that was shutdown due to contamination leading to shortage

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