According to a company representative, infant formula production has resumed at the Abbott Nutrition facility in Michigan that was shut down in February due to contamination and played a part in the national shortage. The Sturgis plant had to stop operations in the middle of June due to flooding and storm damage, barely two weeks after commencing production with more sanitising and safety precautions. Following a restart on July 1, production of EleCare, a specialised formula for children with severe food allergies and digestive issues, has resumed at Sturgis, according to Abbott spokesperson John Koval.
“We are working to restart Similac production as soon as we can. We’ll provide more information when we have it,” he said via email.
In February, Abbott issued a recall for a number of well-known formula brands, including Similac. Due to hoarding during COVID-19 shutdowns and supply chain interruptions, stocks were already under pressure. Retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Target started limiting the number of baby formula products that may be bought at once in April. Datasembly statistics at the period showed that in 26 states, between 40 and 50 percent of baby formula products were out of stock
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Children who depend on specialised formulas and have allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or metabolic disorders were particularly affected by the scarcity. Since then, the government of President Joe Biden has loosened import regulations for foreign producers, flown baby formula from Europe, and used federal emergency regulations to give U.S. production priority. About 90% of American infant formula is produced by just four corporations, including Abbott. Koval declined to reveal how much of Abbot’s overall infant formula supply in the United States is made at the Sturgis facility.
After the Food and Drug Administration started looking into four bacterial infections among children who ate powdered formula from the mill, the plant was shut down in February. Two of the infants perished. The infections, which featured various bacterial strains, according to the business, have not been clearly connected to its goods. In the end, FDA investigators found numerous infractions at the facility, including bacterial contamination, a leaky roof, and weak safety procedures.
The FDA removed the majority of its safety inspectors from the field as the COVID-19 took hold in the U.S. in early 2020, bypassing thousands of routine plant inspections in the process. The Food and Drug Administration made arrangements to assist foreign manufacturers of infant formula who have shipped supplies under an emergency approval to fill the gap get long-term authorization to market their formula in the United States on Wednesday. The goal is to provide American consumers more options while strengthening supply chains to withstand current or upcoming shortages.
The shutdown of the Sturgis plant, “complicated by unforeseen natural weather occurrences, has highlighted exactly how vulnerable the supply chain has become,” said Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the FDA, and Susan Mayne, head of the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.