Abbott Baby Formula Plant Production Stopped Again, This Time Due to Flooding

Abbott Nutrition, which exacerbated a shortage of baby formula in the United States when it temporarily closed a Michigan factory in February because of the presence of bacteria, said it was once again shutting down production. produced at this plant because of flooding during a severe storm.

The company said on Wednesday that it was forced to stop production of its EleCare specialty formula in Sturgis, Mich., one of Abbott’s five manufacturing sites, after severe weather moved through Southwest Michigan on Monday, flooding stores factory parts.

The company says it is assessing the damage and cleaning the plant, which will delay production and distribution by a few weeks, but it has a sufficient supply of EleCare and most specialty formulations. and transform to meet demand until a new formula is available.

“These products are being released to consumers who need the coordination of healthcare professionals,” it said.

Robert M. Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the agency has been notified of the shutdown but does not expect much of an impact due to the import of infant formula nor production of Abbott and other manufacturers increased.

“While this is an unfortunate setback and a reminder that natural weather events can also cause unforeseen supply chain disruptions, I want to reassure consumers that our All government to increase supply means we will have more product than enough to meet current demand. , ” he said in a statement on Twitter.

The storm disrupted power supply and caused wind damage, Sturgis magazine reportedand the city’s municipal airport recorded 1.5 inches of rain.

The plant shutdown is the latest twist in the US infant formula shortage, which begins this early yearas pandemic-related supply chain issues, including scarcity of some ingredients, make it difficult for parents to find formula.

In February, problems worsened when Abbott called back Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formula batches and closed the Sturgis facility after the FDA received four consumer complaints about bacterial contamination associated with infant formulas. Three of the complaints involved Cronobacter sakazakii, a bacteria that can cause severe, life-threatening infections or inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine.

In at least two infants diedeven though Abbott said yes There is no evidence its formulation causes any known illness in infants.

After the shutdown, Abbott said increase production at other manufacturing plants in the United States and at a plant in Ireland.

Abbott and other manufacturers ramped up production as the government eased import regulations. “This means that the total amount of formula available, even before the Sturgis plant resumes operations, exceeds the demand for formula before the recall,” said Dr. Califf, FDA commissioner, in a statement. .

On June 4, Abbott said that they have continued production of EleCare at the Sturgis . plant It is expected to release to consumers around June 20, and it is “working hard” to restart production of Similac and other infant formulas. But that timing doesn’t seem clear after the flood.

“Once the plant has been cleaned up and production resumes, we will resume production of EleCare, followed by special formulations and transformations,” the company said in a statement late in the day. Wednesday. “In parallel, we will work to restart Similac production at the plant as soon as possible.”

The shortage of infant formula has threatened to become a political and public health disaster. President Biden invoking the Defense Production Act to increase production and allow the use of Department of Defense aircraft for “Operation Fly Formula.”

In May, the first in a series of international shipments of baby formula was flown to the United States under the program, to speed up imports and start stocking in stores. Saturday’s shipment took place on Thursday when Nestlé formula was flown from Switzerland to Louisville, Ky., The White House said.

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