Formula Plant to Go Back Online

FDA clears way to increase imports, as well
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2022 6:55 PM CDT
FDA Clears Way to Increase Formula Imports
Katherine Gibson-Haynes helps distribute infant formula during a drive Saturday in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Newser) – Federal officials on Monday reached an agreement to allow baby formula maker Abbott to restart its largest domestic factory, though it will be two months or more before any new products ship from the site to alleviate the national shortage facing parents. Under the agreement, Abbott must work with outside experts to upgrade its standards and reduce bacterial contamination at the Sturgis, Michigan, facility, which the Food and Drug Administration has been investigating. The deal, which must be reviewed by a federal judge, amounts to a legally binding agreement between the FDA and the company on steps needed to reopen the factory, the AP reports

The agreement was filed in court by the Justice Department on behalf of the FDA. After production resumes, Abbott said it will be eight to 10 weeks before new products begin arriving in stores. The company didn’t set a timeline to restart manufacturing, which must be cleared with the FDA. President Biden faces intense pressure to do more to ease the shortage that has left many parents hunting for formula online or at food banks. The FDA also announced Monday that it's taking steps to increasing imports from overseas.

The agency said it's streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping formula to the US, per the AP. "The FDA expects that the measures and steps it's taking with infant formula manufacturers and others will mean more and more supply is on the way or on store shelves moving forward," Commissioner Robert Califf told reporters. The government will prioritize companies that can provide the largest shipments and quickly show documentation that their formulas are safe and meet US nutrition standards, Califf said. (Transportation boss Pete Buttigieg got personal about Abbott.)

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