An infant formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, which resumed production less than two weeks ago after a months-long shutdown that exacerbated shortages across the country, has closed again after parts of the facility were flooded during a heavy rain. storm.
The company that operates the plant, Abbott Nutrition, said Wednesday that it was forced to halt production of its special formula EleCare at Sturgis, one of its five manufacturing sites, after severe weather hit southwestern Michigan on Monday.
In February, Abbott closed the plant and recalled batches of its Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas after the Food and Drug Administration received four consumer complaints about bacterial infections linked to formulas.
On Wednesday, the company said it was assessing storm damage and cleaning up the plant, which would delay production and distribution by a few weeks, but that it had enough supplies of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet demand until new formula is available.
Read more about the baby formula shortage
- Understanding Scarcity: With only a handful of companies making infant formula for the US market, the closure of an Abbott Laboratories plant had a huge effect.
- Premature babies: Many newborns who spend time in the NICU rely on a specialized formula to thrive once they return home. As the shortage continues, his parents can’t find him anywhere.
- Pumping for the Cause: In New York City, the shortage has sparked a huge volunteer effort, with some mothers donating their excess breast milk to help other parents.
- An emotional charge: The shortage is forcing many new mothers to try harder to breastfeed, with some even looking for ways to start over after they’ve stopped.
“These products are being launched to consumers who need them in coordination with health professionals,” he said.
Robert M. Califf, the FDA commissioner, said the agency had been made aware of the disruption, but it wasn’t expected to have much of an impact, given increased formula imports and production by Abbott and other manufacturers.
“While this is an unfortunate setback and a reminder that natural weather events can also cause unforeseen supply chain disruptions, I want to assure consumers that government-wide work to increase supply means we will have more products than enough to meet current demand. ,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
He did similar comments at a Senate committee hearing Thursday, saying the FDA was working closely with Abbott to get the plant back up and running “as soon as we can.”
The storm knocked out power and caused wind damage, and the city’s municipal airport recorded 1.5 inches of rain. reported the Sturgis Journal.
The plant walkout was the latest twist in a U.S. baby formula shortage that began earlier this year when pandemic-related supply chain issues, including shortages of some ingredients, made it difficult to that parents find formula.
After the closure in February, Abbott said so increased production at other manufacturing plants in the United States and at one in Ireland.
Abbott and other producers have been ramping up production as the government eases import regulations. “This means that the total amount of formula available, even before the Sturgis plant is back in production, exceeds the demand for formula before the recall,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Califf.
Navigating the Baby Formula Shortage in the US
A growing problem. A national shortage of baby formula, caused in part by supply chain problems and made worse by a recall from baby food maker Abbott Nutrition, has left parents confused and concerned. Here are some ways to handle this uncertainty:
On June 4, Abbott said it had resumed production of EleCare at the Sturgis plant for an expected launch to consumers around June 20, and was “working hard” to restart production of Similac and other formulations. But that moment seems unclear after the flood.
“Once the plant is re-sanitized and production resumes, we will begin production of EleCare again, followed by special and metabolic formulas,” the company said in its statement late Wednesday. “In parallel, we will work to restart Similac production at the plant as soon as possible.”
The baby formula shortage had threatened to become a public health and political disaster. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to increase production and authorized the use of Department of Defense aircraft for “Operation Fly Formula.”
In May, the first in a series of international shipments of infant formula arrived in the United States under the program, to expedite imports and begin stocking in stores. The seventh shipment takes place on Thursday when the Nestlé formula flies from Switzerland to Louisville, Ky., the White House said.