The infant formula factory which just reopened on June 4 after being closed for nearly four months due to food safety concerns is closed again, this time due to flooding.
Abbott Nutrition’s production facility in Sturgis, MI, closed earlier this week after floodwaters swept through the area, according to a company statement.
“These torrential storms produced significant rainfall in a short time – overwhelming the city of Sturgis, Michigan’s stormwater system and causing flooding in parts of the city, including areas of our plant,” according to company officials.
“As a result, Abbott halted production of its EleCare specialty formula which was underway to assess storm damage and clean and sanitize the plant. We have informed the FDA and will perform comprehensive testing in conjunction with the independent third party to ensure the factory can safely resume production. This will likely delay the production and distribution of the new product by a few weeks. »
The shutdown will no doubt impact an already severe infant formula supply shortage that has plagued the United States since March. Abbott’s facility was closed Feb. 17 after the Food and Drug Administration found five different strains of Cronabacter bacteria and “disgusting” conditions, including a leaky roof, broken equipment and lax food safety practices. , according to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.
President Biden implemented the Defense Production Act to help ease the shortage, which has seen parents drive for hours at a time to find formula for their babies. The FDA has relaxed some regulations to allow the import of infant formula from other countries.
The company says there are many specialty formulas.
“Based on historical demand and current projections, Abbott has sufficient supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet the needs of these products until a new product is available. available. These products are being distributed to consumers in need in coordination with healthcare professionals. Parents or caregivers in need should contact their healthcare professional or contact Abbott at 800-881-0876 for more information.” , according to the company’s statement.
Abbott’s production facility in Sturgis has been linked to at least four infections in infants, according to the FDA. Two of the infants died. There were not samples from all of the babies, but for the sample available, it was not an exact match to the strains of Cronobacter found in the production facility. However, an open container from the home of one of the babies tested positive for Cronobacter.
The company has always denied any responsibility.
“Abbott reviews all complaints and we investigate all complaints that suggest a potential health risk, in accordance with our complaints process. When additional information about a complaint is received, we conduct further investigation if necessary,” the company said. Food Security News.
“Based on the information available, there is no causal relationship between Abbott’s products and the reported deaths.
“Abbott performs microbiological testing of products prior to distribution and no Abbott formula distributed to consumers has tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella. All retained products tested by Abbott and the FDA during the facility inspection have tested negative for Cronobacter sakazakii and/or Salmonella. No salmonella was found at the Sturgis facility.