The country’s largest baby formula manufacturer announced Monday that they were on their way to reopening the plant and starting production again, according to a press release.
Abbott has “agreed to enter into a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)” so they could take “the steps necessary to resume production and maintain the facility,” the document stated. The report noted that production could get going again within two weeks, which would mean product would be available on merchant shelves in six to eight weeks.
The press release also noted that Abbott will continue coordinating with an FDA-approved facility in Ireland to ease the burden of the current shortage in the meantime.
“Our number one priority is getting infants and families the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage. We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely re-open the facility,” Robert B. Ford, chairman and chief executive officer at Abbott said.
“We know millions of parents and caregivers depend on us and we’re deeply sorry that our voluntary recall worsened the nationwide formula shortage. We will work hard to re-earn the trust that moms, dads and caregivers have placed in our formulas for more than 50 years.”
The Sturgis, Michigan, plant was shuttered in February following reports of four infants getting sick and two dying from ingesting formula that was thought to be linked to that plant. Inspections by the Food and Drug Administration found the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii, a bacteria which causes blood infections, according to NBC News. This extended shutdown led to catastrophic formula shortages nationwide, with one data firm estimating that 40% of formula brands were sold out.
The press release noted that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finished their investigation and there were “no findings of a link between Abbott formulas and infant illnesses.” The document also said samples from the sick infants “did not match each other,” meaning the cases were not linked.
The company further promised to extend their WIC rebates for customers who were forced to substitute different brands for Similac in light of the shortages. These provisions will be extended through August 31, the document noted.
The Biden administration came under fire not only for ignoring the baby formula shortages for weeks, but also for apparently shipping pallets of baby formula to immigration detention facilities on the southern border, The Daily Wire reported.
“Joe Biden continues to put America LAST by shipping pallets of baby formula to the southern border as American families face empty shelves,” Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) shared on Twitter. “This is unacceptable. American mothers and their babies shouldn’t suffer because of the #BidenBorderCrisis.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called Stefanik’s statements “irresponsible.” Pelosi said the shortage had nothing to do with Biden’s decision.
“As usual, her statement is totally irresponsible,” Pelosi told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during an appearance on “This Week.”
“Babies are crying. We need to get them food. And the president has — now what we’re doing this week in the Congress is, again, Bobby Scott, chair of the Education and Labor Committee, that’s the jurisdiction that will lower some of the regulations, et cetera, so that it’s easier to buy it.”