- Abbott says it could reopen its Michigan facility in two weeks if the FDA approves.
- But even in that case, they say it will take between 6 to 8 weeks to get formulas on shelves.
- In the meantime, the FDA is scrambling to address a national baby formula shortage.
Abbott, the company that produces baby formula, said that if the FDA were to approve reopening its Michigan facility, it could do so in two weeks — but it would still take months to see baby formula on shelves.
The company recalled several lots of the formula brands Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare in February following complaints that infants contracted cronobacter sakazakii, an environmental bacteria. All four babies used formula produced at the company’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.
The recall has worsened a nationwide infant formula shortage.
Despite Abbott’s timeline, The Washington Post reported that the FDA is still not done investigating the facility.
The FDA report said cronobacter sakazakii bacteria was found in a number of areas in the facility, and other safety protocols, such as employees wearing gloves, were not observed.
“The plant remains closed as the company works to correct findings related to the processes, procedures and conditions that the FDA observed during its inspection of the facility, which raised concerns that powdered infant formula produced at this facility prior to the FDA’s inspection carry a risk of contamination,” an FDA spokeswoman told The Post.
In the meantime, as more than 40% of leading baby formulas are out of stock, the FDA said all US-based formula manufacturers have increased production in recent weeks, and more products should be available on shelves soon.
Abbott also said it’s been shipping in products produced in their Cootehill, Ireland, facility “to serve state Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) consumers.”
Additionally, to ease the burden on parents, the Post reported that Califf said the FDA plans to let foreign manufacturers and suppliers ship products to the US.
—Dr. Robert M. Califf (@DrCaliff_FDA) May 13, 2022
“FDA is working closely w/ our federal government partners to safely bring as much infant formula to US shelves as quickly as possible. This is a top priority for FDA. Our team will continue working around the clock to resolve the current supply challenges as quickly as possible,” Robert Califf, the FDA commissioner, said in a tweet.