Abbott halts formula production again at its Michigan factory after flooding

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Less than two weeks after restarting formula production at its Michigan plant, Abbott again had to halt manufacturing there due to flooding.

Storms in southwestern Michigan on Monday evening overwhelmed the stormwater system in Sturgis, Michigan, causing flooding in the city and parts of the plant, Abbott said in a statement.

As a result, Abbott stopped production of its EleCare formula, a formula for babies and children with allergies and certain gastrointestinal conditions. Abbott assesses storm damage and cleans and disinfects the facility. It will likely be “a few weeks” before production and distribution of new products can resume, Abbott said.

Abbott said it has “sufficient supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet the needs of these products until a new product becomes available.”

The news, however, comes as parents across the country continue to fight a shortage of infant formula. Many looked forward to the reopening of the Sturgis plant a few weeks ago, a sign that supplies could soon be replenished.

Supply chain issues first caused an infant formula shortage, then a recall of formula produced at Abbott’s Sturgis plant exacerbated the problem.

The issue has drawn outcry from parents, whose babies depend on certain types of infant formula, and lawmakers who have criticized Abbott for conditions at his factory and the US Food and Drug Administration so as not to catch problems earlier. Abbott also faces a number of parental lawsuits.

Abbott recalled the formula in February as the US Food and Drug Administration announced it was investigating complaints of Cronobacter sakazakii infections in four babies who allegedly consumed infant formula made there. All four were hospitalized and Cronobacter may have contributed to the deaths of two babies, according to the FDA.

The FDA inspected the facility from January 31 to March 18 and found five environmental subsamples taken from the Sturgis facility tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii, although product samples collected by the FDA from the facility tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii. were negative for Cronobacter.

Abbott executives have apologized for the company’s role in the national shortage. Abbott, however, said the Cronobacter that was found during environmental testing during the investigation was in “non-product contact areas of the facility and has not been linked to any known childhood illnesses”. .

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf also acknowledged that the FDA was “too slow” to inspect the plant and question a whistleblower about conditions there. The FDA received a complaint in September about an infant who became ill after consuming formula made at the Michigan facility, and received a whistleblower complaint in October.

Abbott said once it can restart production at Sturgis, it will produce more EleCare, followed by specialty and metabolic formulas, and Similac.

Parents who need EleCare or specialized formulas should contact their doctor or Abbott at 1-800-881-0876.

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