A baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, which resumed production less than two weeks ago after a month-long shutdown that exacerbated shortages across the country, has shut down again after parts of the facility were flooded during a severe storm.
The company that runs the plant, Abbott Nutrition, said Wednesday it was forced to halt production of its specialty EleCare formula at Sturgis, one of its five manufacturing sites, after severe weather moved across southwest Michigan on Monday.
In February, Abbott closed the plant and recalled batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas after the Food and Drug Administration received four complaints from consumers of bacterial infections related to the formulas.
The company said, Wednesday, that it is assessing damage from the storm and cleaning up the plant, which would delay production and distribution for a few weeks, but it has sufficient supplies of EleCare and most of the specialty and metabolic formulations to meet demand until a new formula is available.
Read more about infant formula deficiency
- Understand the deficiency: With so few companies making infant formula for the US market, the closure of the Abbott Laboratories factory had a massive impact.
- premature babies: Many newborns who spend time in the NICU rely on specialized formulas to thrive once they return home. As the shortage continues, their parents can’t find it anywhere.
- Pumping for a cause: In New York City, the shortage prompted a massive volunteer effort, with some mothers donating their excess supply of breast milk to help other fathers.
- emotional outcome: The deficiency is forcing many new mothers to push themselves more aggressively to breastfeed, with some even looking for ways to start over after stopping.
“These products are being released to consumers in need in coordination with healthcare professionals,” she said.
FDA commissioner Robert M. Califf said the agency had been informed about the discontinuation but that it was not expected to have a significant impact, given increased imports of the formula as well as production by Abbott and other manufacturers.
“While this is an unfortunate setback and a reminder that natural weather events can also cause unexpected disruptions to the supply chain, I want to reassure consumers that sweeping government action to increase supply means we will have more than enough product to meet current demand,” He said in a statement on Twitter.
Manufacture Similar statements At a Senate committee hearing Thursday, she said the Food and Drug Administration was working closely with Abbott to restart the plant “as quickly as possible.”
The storm disrupted electricity and caused wind damage, and the city’s local airport recorded 1.5 inches of rain, the Sturgis Journal reported.
The stop at the factory was the latest development in the infant formula shortage in the United States, which began earlier this year, when supply chain problems linked to the pandemic, including a scarcity of some ingredients, made it difficult for parents to find infant formula.
After the shutdown in February, Abbott said it had increased production at other plants in the United States and one in Ireland.
Abbott and other producers were reducing production as the government relaxed import regulations. “This means that the total amount of formula available, even before the Sturgis plant is reproduced, exceeds the demand for the formula prior to recall,” Dr. Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Overcoming the shortage of infant formula in the United States
A growing problem. A nationwide shortage of infant formula — caused in part by supply chain issues and exacerbated by a recall of baby food manufacturer Abbott Nutrition — has left parents confused and worried. Here are some ways to deal with this uncertainty:
On June 4, Abbott said it had resumed production of EleCare at its Sturgis plant for the release expected to consumers around June 20, and that it was “working hard” to reintroduce Similac and other formulas. But this timing appears to be unclear after the floods.
“Once the plant is re-sterilized and production resumes, we will once again begin production of EleCare, followed by specialty formulations and metabolizers,” the company said in its statement late on Wednesday. In parallel, we will work to resume Similac production at the plant as soon as possible. “
The shortage of infant formula threatened to turn into a political and public health disaster. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to increase production and authorized the use of Department of Defense aircraft in “Operation Fly.”
In May, the first international shipments of infant formula were moved to the United States under the programme, to speed up imports and start getting stock in stores. The seventh shipment comes Thursday when the Nestlé formula will be transported from Switzerland to Louisville, Kentucky, the White House said.