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Abbott's Michigan baby formula plant reopens: How long before parents see more supply?

·2 min read

Baby formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories restarted production Saturday at its Sturgis, Michigan plant that has been closed since February.

Abbott said it will first produce EleCare and other specialty and metabolic formulas which will be available to consumers as early as June 20. The company added that it will restart production of Similac and other formulas as soon as it can.

The company reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration after a voluntary recall that has contributed to a baby formula shortage nationwide.

NATIONAL NURSING SHORTAGE HITTING RURAL AMERICA HARDEST

'We understand the urgent need for formula and our top priority is getting high-quality, safe formula into the hands of families across America," Abbott Labs said. "We will ramp production as quickly as we can while meeting all requirements. We're committed to safety and quality and will do everything we can to re-earn the trust parents, caregivers and health care providers have placed in us for 130 years."

The plant in Sturgis, Michigan was shut down in February and several brands of powdered formula were recalled after four infants contracted bacterial infections, leading to hospitalizations and two deaths. Abbott has denied that its plant was responsible for the infections, saying that samples from ill infants did not match the strains of bacteria found in the plant.

Abbott failed to maintain sanitary conditions and procedures at the plant, according to findings released in March by federal safety inspectors.

The FDA is under scrutiny for why it took more than three months to bring the Michigan plant back online.

The Biden administration has turned to Europe and Mexico to import millions of pounds of baby formula to alleviate the shortage that is expected to last into the summer.

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Abbott didn’t maintain clean surfaces used in producing and handling the powdered formula, according to the FDA inspection. Additionally, inspectors found a history of contamination with the bacteria, known as cronobacter, including eight instances between fall 2019 and February of this year.

Robert Ford, the CEO of Abbott Laboratories, apologized for exacerbating the baby formula shortage in a Washington Post opinion piece, following a recall of the company's products in February.

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"We’re sorry to every family we’ve let down since our voluntary recall exacerbated our nation’s baby formula shortage," Ford wrote, emphasizing that he believed the recall was the right thing to do."

The Associated Press and Fox News' Hanna Panreck and Paul Best contributed to this report.