by Scott McClallen
Abbott Nutrition said it plans to restart its baby formula plant in Sturgis on June 4 after a plethora of problems left shelves bare nationwide.
The plant shutdown was compounded by supply chain issues, product recalls, and record 40-year high inflation. As of the week ending May 8, the company Datasembly reported the national out-of-stock rate for baby formula hit 43%.
“Abbott plans to restart production at the Sturgis facility on June 4 and will prioritize EleCare production, with initial EleCare product release to consumers beginning on or about June 20,” the company said in a statement.
The news follows a week after Abbott reached a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration to restart production of formula powder safely. Two babies died and others were sickened by a bacteria called cronobacter sakazakii, but Abbott has denied culpability. Results of an FDA investigation haven’t been made public.
On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina M. Khan launched an inquiry into alleged “unfair” business practices in the baby formula market.
“The FTC is launching a public inquiry to identify the factors that contributed to the shortage or hampered our ability to respond to it,” Khan said in a statement. “Learning from this experience can help determine how we can minimize the risk of similar shortages in the markets for other life-sustaining products.”
The FTC is seeking public input on whether the FTC or state or federal agencies may have contributed to the problem. It will examine the pattern of mergers and acquisitions in the infant formula market.
The FDA restricts importing baby formula but temporarily eased the rules on May 16.
The problem affected about 85% of the more than 200,000 people in the Women, Infant, and Children program that gives recipients about $30 to $112 or more per month.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Abbott Nutrition Factory” by Jonathan Billinger. CC BY-SA 2.0.