The baby formula crisis in the United States was centered at the Abbott Laboratories plant located in Michigan.
After severe storms in southwest Michigan caused flooding of areas at the Sturgis, Michigan facility, EleCare specialty formulation was stopped.
This is the same plant that forced Abbott to recall some formulas in February because of contamination issues.
The industry-wide shortage of baby formula was exacerbated by the closure of Sturgis, which was the largest U.S. facility and source of top brands like Similac. Parents and caregivers have struggled for months to find baby formula as the shelves became more empty. To reduce stockpiling, retailers had to place purchasing limits on the product.
The company notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the incident would likely cause delays in the production and distribution of infant formula for a few more weeks.
According to a statement, “Abbott has an ample supply of EleCare as well as most of its metabolic formulas and specialty products to meet these needs until new products are available.”
“Once production has resumed and the plant is cleaned up, EleCare will be restarted. Then, specialty and metabolic formulas will be added. The statement added that Similac production will be restarted at the plant in parallel.
Today, we were made aware of the weather-related situation at Abbott’s Sturgis, Mich. facility. I personally spoke to the CEO tonight and we discussed our shared desire to get the facility up and running again as quickly as possible.
— Dr. Robert M. Califf (@DrCaliff_FDA) June 16, 2022
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf addressed the issue via Twitter Wednesday night, writing: “Today we were made aware about the weather-related condition at Abbott’s Sturgis (Mich.) facility. Tonight, I spoke directly to the CEO and we discussed our common desire to get the facility back up and running as soon as possible.
Califf called the situation “unfortunate” and assured consumers that there would be more products to satisfy current demand.
“Abbott has exceeded the monthly formula production it made in 2021, all the while the Sturgis facility was out of production. Califf said that formula is still being produced by other producers at higher than average rates. We continue to have the flexibility to import additional formulas. “This means that even though the Sturgis plant has resumed production, the total formula stock available is greater than the demand prior to the recall.”
Califf stated that Abbott would report to the FDA its progress in repairing the plant within the next few days. To ensure that the plant can resume production safely, the FDA will return to it.
Califf stated that “Making sure parents and caregivers have safe and readily available infant formula is a top priority for FDA,” and that the FDA’s teams are working tirelessly to make it happen.”
Abbott is one of only four companies (Gerber, Perrigo, and Reckitt) that make an estimated 90% U.S. formula.