The Abbott Laboratories plant in Michigan, which was at the center of the national infant formula crisis, halted production again.
Production of its specialty EleCare formula was halted after severe storms in southwestern Michigan flooded areas of its Sturgis, Michigan plant.
This is the same factory that forced Abbott to issue a recall of some of its formulas in February due to contamination issues.
The closure of the Sturgis plant, the largest in the United States and source of big brands like Similac, has exacerbated the industry-wide infant formula shortage. For several months, parents and carers have been scrambling as the shelves become increasingly empty. Meanwhile, retailers were forced to set purchase limits on the product to try to limit storage.
The company, which notified the US Food and Drug Administration, said the incident would likely delay production and distribution of the infant formula by a few weeks.
“Abbott has a 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,” according to a statement.
“Once the plant is resanitized and production resumes, we will restart production of EleCare, followed by specialty and metabolic formulas. In parallel, we will work to restart production of Similac at the plant as soon as possible” , continues the press release.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf responded to the issue on Twitter on Wednesday evening, writing: “Today we were made aware of the weather-related situation at the facilities of Abbott in Sturgis, Mich. I personally spoke to the CEO this evening and we discussed our shared desire to get the facility back into service as quickly as possible.”
FILE IMAGE – The Abbott Nutrition factory in Sturgis, Michigan, U.S., Thursday, May 19, 2022. Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Califf then called the situation an “unfortunate setback” and reassured consumers that “working across government to increase supply means we will have more than enough product to meet current demand.”
“Abbott exceeded the monthly amount of infant formula it produced in 2021, while the Sturgis plant is out of production. ‘l formula,” Califf added. “This means that the total amount of formula available, even before the Sturgis plant resumes production, exceeds the demand for formula before the recall.”
Califf said Abbott will report its progress on fixing the plant to the FDA in the coming days. The FDA will then return to the plant to ensure it can safely restart production.
“Ensuring that parents and caregivers have access to safe and available infant formula remains a top priority for the FDA, and our teams are working day and night to achieve this,” Califf said.
Abbott is just one of four companies, including Gerber, Perrigo and Reckitt, that produce about 90% of the American formula.