The nation’s largest baby formula maker has provided an update on measures it is taking to alleviate food shortages in the US amid the ongoing shutdown of one of its major plants.
Abbott Nutrition said in a Friday news release that the company has “shipped millions of cans of infant formula into the United States” since it closed its Sturgis, Michigan facility in February, from its U.S. Food and Drug Administration-registered facility Plant in Cootehill, Ireland.
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The company said it has also “prioritised infant formula production at our Columbus, Ohio facility and transitioned other liquid manufacturing lines to producing ready-to-eat Similac liquid.”
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Abbott’s other plants are “running at full capacity as we continue to prioritize infant formula production to replenish supply in the market,” the statement said.
In addition to the production updates, Abbott said it has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agencies for Specialty Dietary Supplements for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to pay rebates for consumers to purchase competing brand formulas when it comes to Similac trade mark does not exist.
The company said it also offers “an increased number and value of coupons available on all of our infant formula products, including Similac ready-to-feed, to allow customers to purchase formulas either for free or at a deep discount.”
Abbott closed its Sturgis facility and is recalling certain formulas as part of an FDA investigation earlier this year after complaints that four infants consuming formulas made at the factory contracted bacterial infections. Two of the babies died.
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The company claims that after reviewing both internal and FDA testing data, there is no evidence linking the babies’ diseases to their formula.
In the meantime, the facility remains closed as the company works to upgrade the facility to meet FDA recommendations. Abbott says it can have products from the facility back on shelves in a few months, once the FDA approves it.
Abbott hasn’t said when the upgrades will be complete at its Michigan facility.
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The company acknowledges that its recalls have exacerbated ongoing U.S. baby food shortages, which have escalated to crisis levels in states across the country in recent weeks.