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Abbott Laboratories’ Michigan plant, which was at the center of the country’s baby food crisis, has halted production again.
Production of its EleCare specialty formula was halted after severe storms in southwest Michigan flooded areas of its Sturgis, Michigan facility.
FILE PHOTO: The Abbott Laboratories facility that manufactured dozens of recalled types of powdered baby formula, resulting in the suspension of production at the Sturgis, Michigan site, May 20, 2022. (REUTERS/Eric Cox/File Photo / Reuters Photos)
This is the same facility that forced Abbott to recall some of its formulas in February due to contamination issues.
The closure of the Sturgis facility, the largest in the US and source of leading brands like Similac, exacerbated the industry-wide shortage of baby food. Parents and caregivers have been scrambling to get up for a few months because the shelves are getting sparser. Meanwhile, retailers have been forced to place purchase restrictions on the product to try and limit stockpiling.
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Shelves normally stocked with baby food stand mostly empty at a store in San Antonio on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay / AP Newsroom)
ABBOTT WILL REOPEN THE MICHIGAN PLANT ON JUNE 4TH, MAKING PRODUCTION OF SPECIALTY FORMULAS A PRIORITY
The company, which has notified the US Food and Drug Administration, said the incident will likely delay production and distribution of the infant formula by a few weeks.
“Abbott has an extensive lineup of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet needs for these products until a new product becomes available,” the statement said.
“Once the facility is sanitized again and production resumes, we will start EleCare production again, followed by specialty and metabolic formulas. In parallel, we will work to resume Similac production at the facility as soon as possible,” the statement continued.
dr Robert Califf, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, responded to the issue on Twitter Wednesday night, writing, “Today we were made aware of the weather-related situation at Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan facility. I spoke to the CEO in person tonight and we discussed our mutual desire to get the facility up and running as quickly as possible.”
Califf went on to describe the situation as an “unfortunate setback” and reassured consumers that “efforts across government to increase supply mean we will have more than enough product to meet current demand.”
“Abbott exceeded the monthly amount of infant formula produced in 2021 – all while the Sturgis facility is idle. Other manufacturers also continue to make infant formula at above-average rates, and we continue to exercise flexibility to import additional products I have a formula,” added Califf. “This means that the total amount of formula available before the Sturgis facility returns to production will exceed pre-recall demand for formula.”
WHITE OAK, MD – JULY 20: A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen in front of the headquarters on July 20, 2020 in White Oak, Maryland. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/Getty Images)
Califf said Abbott will report to the FDA on its progress on repairing the facility in the coming days. The FDA will then return to the factory to ensure production can safely resume.
“Ensuring parents and caregivers have access to safe and available infant formula remains a top priority for the FDA, and our teams are working day and night to make that happen,” Califf said.
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Abbott is just one of four companies, including Gerber, Perrigo, and Reckitt, that make an estimated 90% of the U.S. formula.
Daniella Genovese of FOX Business and Reuters contributed to this report.