Baby formula plant shuts down again, gives FDA commissioner reassurance

The commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday that he did not expect another formula shortage related to the season at the Michigan Baby Formula Plant.

“Today, we were apprised of the meteorological situation at the Abbotts Sturgis, Michigan facility. I spoke personally with the CEO tonight and we discussed our shared desire to get the facility up and running as quickly as possible,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M Califf wrote on Twitter. “While this is an unfortunate setback and a reminder that even natural weather events can cause unforeseen supply chain disruptions, I want to reassure consumers that all government work to increase supply means that we have no current demand. There will be more than enough products to meet this.”

Calif’s comments come shortly after Abbott Nutrition announced that it was temporarily closing its baby formula production plant in Sturgis, due to stormy weather causing flooding in the city.

The FDA’s commissioner said he doesn’t think the Michigan Baby Formula Plant’s weather-related closure will lead to another shortage. Above, empty shelves are seen at a Walmart store during a baby formula shortage on May 26, 2022 in North Bergen, NJ.
Kena Betancur / ViewPress / Getty

“Severe thunderstorms and heavy rain hit southwestern Michigan on Monday evening, resulting in strong winds, hail, power outages and flood damage across the region,” Abbott Nutrition said in a statement. “These torrential storms produced significant rainfall in a short period of time—overwhelming the city’s stormwater system in Sturgis, Michigan, and flooding parts of the city, including areas of our plant.”

“As a result, Abbott has ceased production of its Elecare Specialty Formulas which was under way to assess the damage caused by the storm and to clean and re-clean the plant,” Abbott’s statement continued. “We have informed [the] Will conduct extensive testing with the FDA and independent third parties to ensure the plant is safe to resume production. This is likely to delay the production and delivery of the new product by a few weeks.”

However, Abbott’s statement also noted that the company currently has “a substantial existing supply of Alecare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas are available until new products are available to meet these needs.”

Before the announcement on Wednesday, Abbott Nutrition closed its production plant in Sturgis in February after a recall of certain baby formula products. The products were recalled in response to concerns about possible bacterial infections in infants.

The closure of the plant in February led to a nationwide shortage of baby formula, with some parents searching for hours to buy formula, while others faced price hikes. Some children were hospitalized after parents attempted to make homemade formula amid shortages.

in a statement sent to newsweekAn FDA spokesperson echoed the comments made by Calif, saying, “Other manufacturers also continue to make formula at higher-than-average rates, and we continue to exercise the flexibility to import additional formula. That means that the total amount of formula available, before the Sturgis plant goes back into production, exceeds the demand for pre-recall formula… Ensuring that parents and caregivers have both safe and available infant formula Access is a top priority for the FDA.”

The White House said that in response to the shortage of baby formula, US President Joe Biden first invoked the Defense Production Act to “ensure that sufficient safe infant formula is available in the country and for families in need of it.” “.

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