Baby formula plant at heart of shortage closes days after reopening

The leading baby formula company at the heart of a national shortage was forced to close its Michigan plant Wednesday night, just days after reopening after a months-long forced shutdown.

Abbott Laboratories said its plant, which had only reopened June 4, was overwhelmed by “severe thunderstorms and heavy rain” that caused “power outages and flood damage throughout” Sturgis, causing widespread flooding.

“As a result, Abbott stopped production of its special formula EleCare that was underway to assess storm damage and clean and re-disinfect the plant,” the company announced.

“This is likely to delay the production and distribution of new products for a few weeks,” said the company, the largest supplier of powdered infant formula in the United States.

Still, the company insisted that even with “historic demand,” it had “an ample existing supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulations to meet the needs of these products until a new product becomes available.”

Abbott Laboratories said its plant, which only reopened June 4, was overwhelmed by "heavy storms and heavy rain" that caused "power outages and flood damage.
Abbott Laboratories said its plant, which only reopened June 4, was overwhelmed by “severe electrical storms and heavy rain” that caused “power outages and flood damage.”
EPA/TANNEN MAURY
The company insisted even with "historical demand" I had "Existing wide range of EleCare.
The company insisted that even with “historic demand” it had “an extensive existing EleCare offering.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

Wednesday’s closure was the latest setback for the plant, which was shut down by the Food and Drug Administration in February after two babies died from a rare bacteria that may have come from the plant.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the federal agency was “he found out” about the last closure.

“I personally spoke with the CEO tonight and we discussed our shared desire to get the facility back up and running as quickly as possible,” he tweeted.

Calling it an “unfortunate setback”, Califf insisted there was still “more than enough product to meet current demand”.

The Biden administration has faced continued pressure to fix the baby formula problem.
The Biden administration has faced continued pressure to fix the baby formula problem.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
The facility halted production after Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria were found at the plant.
The facility halted production after Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria were found at the plant.
EPA/TANNEN MAURY

“Ensuring that parents and caregivers have access to safe and available infant formula remains a top priority for the FDA, and our teams are working around the clock to help make that happen,” he tweeted.

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