Weather delays reopening of baby formula plant
Abbott, a major baby formula manufacturer that produces the Similac brand of baby formula, on Wednesday announced that severe weather at its plant in Sturgis, Mich., has caused the plant to cease production and will likely delay the production of new products there for at least a few weeks.
The production of the company’s specialty baby formula, EleClare, has ceased entirely as a result of the damage to the plant from the severe weather in southwestern Michigan.
High winds, hail, power outages and flooding impacted the plant, and the company will need to conduct repairs and sanitation tests before reopening safely to continue formula production.
Abbott stated that they have informed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the weather-related delay and that, based on historic demand for EleClare, there should not be an impact to supply and demand for the specialty product.
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf commented on the situation via Twitter, assuring the public that the setback should not influence the recovery in baby formula supply throughout the United States after noting that he had spoken to the CEO of Abbott about the Sturgis plant closure.
Califf explained on Twitter that the current supply of baby formula being produced elsewhere than the Sturgis plant is still an overproduction based on demand from 2021 and that it would be more than enough to supply American parents and caregivers with formula for their children.
“Making sure that parents and caregivers have access to both safe and available infant formula remains a top priority for the FDA, and our teams are working night and day to help make that happen,” added Califf.
The baby formula shortage has been caused in part by a recall of several formula products at Abbott’s plant, which began in February.
At the time of the recall, Abbott said it found “evidence of Cronobacter sakazakii in the plant in non-product contact areas.” The bacteria is a food-borne pathogen, and infection from it is rare but can be fatal.
The lack of production at the Abbott facility caused a supply chain disruption, from which has taken the company months to recover.