STURGIS, Mich. – A southwestern Michigan plant at the center of a national baby formula crisis has stopped production yet again due to contaminating floodwaters.
This comes as severe thunderstorms and heavy rains rumbled through Sturgis on Monday evening. The powerful storms produced high winds, hail and power outages throughout the area. The significant rainfall in a short period of time also overwhelmed the city’s stormwater system and resulted in flooding.
Abbott Laboratories said they had to stop production of its EleCare specialty formula in order to assess the damage. This is the same plant that was forced to issue a recall of some of its formulas in February due to contamination issues.
"Once the plant is re-sanitized and production resumes, we will again begin EleCare production, followed by specialty and metabolic formulas. In parallel, we will work to restart Similac production at the plant as soon as possible," the company said in a written statement.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said he spoke to Abbott CEO Robert Ford on Wednesday and discussed their "shared desire to get the facility up and running again as quickly as possible."
"Once the company establishes a plan, FDA will be back in the facility working to ensure that they can restart producing safe and quality formula products quickly," Califf said. "Making sure that parents and caregivers have access to both safe and available infant formula remains a top priority for the FDA, and our teams are working night and day to help make that happen."
Abbott said comprehensive testing with an independent third party to ensure the plant is safe to resume production will likely delay production and distribution of new products for a few weeks.
Based on historical demand and current projections, Abbott said they have an ample existing supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet needs for these products until new product is available. Parents or caregivers in need should contact their healthcare professional or call Abbott at 800-881-0876 to get more information.
Abbott will have produced 8.7 million pounds of infant formula in June for the U.S., or the equivalent of 168.2 million 6 oz. feedings. This is 95% of what was produced in January, prior to the recall, and does not include production from Sturgis.
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