Continued production at the troubled Abbott baby formula factory

Abbott manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, on May 13, 2022.

Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | beautiful pictures

A company spokesman said production of infant formula has resumed at the Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan.

Severe thunderstorm damage including flooding forced the Sturgis plant to halt operations in mid-June just two weeks after restarting production with additional safety and hygiene procedures.

Abbott spokesman John Koval said production of EleCare, a special formula for children with severe food allergies and digestive problems, had been resumed at Sturgis after it restarted in July 1st.

“We are working to restart Similac production as soon as possible. We will provide more information as it becomes available,” he said by email.

Abbott recalled several leading brands of infant formula in February, including Similac. That squeezed supply has been strained by supply chain and stockpiling disruptions during the Covid-19 shutdown.

The deficiency is most severe for children with allergies, digestive problems and metabolic disorders, who rely on specialty formulas.

The administration of President Joe Biden has since relaxed import rules for foreign manufacturers of infant formula from Europe and invoked emergency federal rules to prioritize American production. .

Abbott is one of four companies that make about 90% of US formula milk. Koval declined to say what the total supply of Abbot’s infant formula produced at the Sturgis plant is.

The factory was closed in February after the Food and Drug Administration began investigating four cases of bacterial infection in infants who drank formula from the factory. Two of the infants died. The company says its products are not directly linked to infections, which involve different strains of bacteria.

FDA inspectors eventually discovered a series of violations at the plant, including bacterial contamination, leaky roofs, and lax safety procedures.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced a plan to help overseas manufacturers of infant formula that have sent supplies, which are receiving urgent approval, to address shortages, ensuring secured long-term authorization to market their formula in the US. The plan is to give American consumers more choice and make supplies more flexible in the face of current or future shortages.

FDA Commissioners Dr. Robert Califf and Susan Mayne, director of the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement that the shutdown of the Sturgis plant was “due to weather phenomena.” unforeseeable, has shown how vulnerable supply chains have become.”

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