Abbott restarts Michigan baby formula plant linked to contamination

WASHINGTON – Abbott Nutrition has resumed production at its Michigan-based baby dairy plant, which has been closed for months due to contamination, the company said Saturday, taking a step toward mitigating the nationwide shortage that is expected to continue into the summer.

The closure of the country’s largest brewery in February led to supply problems that forced some parents to seek food from food banks, friends and clinics.

Abbott said it would initially prioritize the production of EleCare formulas for infants with severe food allergies and digestive problems who have few other dietary options. The company said it would take about three weeks before the new formula from the factory began appearing on store shelves.

“We will increase production as fast as we can, meeting all requirements,” Abbott said in a statement.

The reopening of the plant is one of many federal actions that are expected to improve supplies in the coming weeks. The government of President Joe Biden has relaxed import rules for foreign manufacturers, introduced formula from Europe and invoked federal emergency rules to prioritize US production.

Abbott shut down the Sturgis plant in Michigan in February after the Food and Drug Administration began investigating four bacterial infections among infants consuming formula powder. Two of the babies died. The company continues to state that its products have not been directly linked to infections, which involved different bacterial strains.

FDA inspectors eventually uncovered a number of breaches at the plant, including bacterial contamination, leaking roofs and loose safety protocols. The FDA has been under intense scrutiny for months to shut down the plant and then negotiate its reopening. The leaders of the agency recently told Congress that they had to enter into a legally binding agreement with Abbott to ensure that all issues were resolved.

Abbott’s recall in February of several top brands, including Similac, squeezed supplies already under pressure due to supply chain and inventory disruptions during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The deficiency was very terrible for children with allergies, digestive problems and metabolic disorders based on special formulas. The Abbott plant is the sole source of many of these products, feeding about 5,000 babies in the United States, according to federal officials.

Abbott is one of only four companies to produce approximately 90% of the US formula. The recalls and the closure of the company caused a catastrophe: retailers restricted customers’ purchases to save on supplies, and parents were asked to change names to any formula.

FDA Commissioner Robert Calif recently told lawmakers it could take about two months for formula supplies to return to normal. The agency has waived many of its regulatory requirements to accept more formulations from the UK, Australia and other nations.

US manufacturers, including Reckitt and Gerber, have also accelerated production by operating factories 24/7 and supplying more formula from alternative installations.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Abbott restarts Michigan baby formula plant linked to contamination Source link Abbott restarts Michigan baby formula plant linked to contamination

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