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Abbott to Restart Production of Similac Baby Formula

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Abbott Nutrition, which shut down a plant in Michigan in February amid contamination concerns, triggering a national shortage of baby formula, said on Friday that it was set to resume making its leading formula, Similac.

With production of the formula set to ramp up on the plant in Sturgis, Mich., the corporate hopes to ease the shortage that left parents across the country scrambling to feed their infants.

The shortage began earlier this yr after pandemic-related supply chain issues created a scarcity of ingredients for formula, and it was further exacerbated by the difficulty on the Michigan plant.

Robert B. Ford, the chief executive at Abbott, said that restarting Similac production was a crucial step in getting formula back on shelves.

“Making infant formula is a responsibility we take very seriously, and oldsters can feel confident in the standard and safety of Similac and other Abbott formulas,” Mr. Ford said in a news release. “We’re committed to re-earning the trust parents and health care providers have placed in us for many years.”

It can be about six weeks before the Similac product line begins shipping, the corporate said, adding that restarting manufacturing on the plant after a monthslong shutdown was a “complex process” to make sure equipment was working properly.

The corporate warned that it was possible there can be stops and starts “every so often.”

In February, Abbott voluntarily recalled batches of three formulas after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received consumer complaints a couple of bacterium that could cause severe, life-threatening infections or inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine.

4 babies who were fed formula manufactured on the Sturgis plant became sick with bacterial infections, and not less than two died. Abbott has said that there isn’t a “conclusive evidence” to link the corporate’s formulas to the illnesses.

Dr. Robert M. Califf, the commissioner of the F.D.A., told a House panel in May that the Sturgis plant had a leaking roof, water pooling on the ground and cracks in production equipment that allowed bacteria to get in and persist.

He described the conditions as “egregiously unsanitary” and acknowledged that his agency must have acted quicker to deal with the issues.

Abbott entered a consent decree with the federal government to assist provide a latest series of safeguards, including hiring a professional expert to oversee improvements on the plant and notifying the F.D.A. if any contamination is found.

By June, Abbott resumed making EleCare but lower than two weeks after starting production, the plant was forced to shut again after severe storms left parts of the power flooded. Production of EleCare and other metabolic formulas resumed on July 1 and shipments are expected to be sent in the subsequent few weeks, the corporate said.

The possibly dangerous bacteria, Cronobacter sakazakii, has also been present in a few batches of formula since restarting production. Abbott said that the problems were identified and that the products weren’t affected or distributed, which “confirms our quality systems work.”

After its initial shutdown, Abbott said it increased production at other manufacturing plants in the US and one in Ireland. The corporate said that in August, it will supply the US with greater than eight million kilos of formula, which is greater than what it produced last August.

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