Baby Formula Plant Must Temporarily Close Again

This time, severe weather is to blame at Abbott's facility in Sturgis, Michigan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 16, 2022 2:04 PM CDT
Baby Formula Plant Must Temporarily Close Again
File photo of the Abbott Laboratories manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Mich.   (Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal via AP)

Another potential baby formula headache: Severe weather has forced Abbott Nutrition to pause production at a Michigan factory that had just restarted after being closed for several months, per the AP. Production for Abbott's EleCare specialty formula has been suspended, but the company says there is enough supply for that particular product to meet demand until production is restarted. Abbott had prioritized ramping up production of the specialty formula for infants with severe food allergies and digestive problems who have few other options for nutrition. The plant in Sturgis is the largest formula factory in the US, notes USA Today.

Abbott says it needs to assess damage and re-sanitize the factory after severe thunderstorms and heavy rains swept through southwestern Michigan late Monday. Spokesman Jonathon Hamilton said flooding hit a few areas of the factory, but he declined to provide more specific details about damage. The company expects production and distribution to be delayed for a few weeks as it cleans the plant. FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf told a Senate committee Thursday that "it’s too early to give an exact estimate of what the delay will be in the Sturgis plant."

Once it restarts, the factory will begin with the production of EleCare and other specialty formulas. Abbott says it also plans to restart production of its Similac formula as soon as possible. Abbott had initially restarted the factory on June 4 after it had been closed since February due to contamination. Abbott recalled several leading brands of formula then, including Similac. That squeezed supplies that had already been strained by supply chain disruptions and stockpiling during COVID-19 shutdowns.

(More baby formula stories.)

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