Abbott halts EleCare output from plant at center of baby formula shortage

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The Abbott manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, on May 13, 2022.
Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | Getty Images

Abbott Laboratories said late Wednesday it has stopped production of its EleCare specialty formula after severe storms and heavy rains in southwestern Michigan flooded areas of its plant in Sturgis.

The company, which has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the incident will likely delay production and distribution of the infant formula for a few weeks.

The temporary closure of the plant comes a week after Abbott reopened its Sturgis plant to alleviate an acute nationwide shortage of baby formula that sent parents scrambling for supplies.

The plant shutdown and Abbott’s recall of infant formula products in February deepened the supply shortage in the United States, with global companies like Neocate maker Danone SA bringing baby formula products into the U.S.

The company began a recall after reports of bacterial infections in children who had consumed the formula made at the plant.

But Abbott, the biggest U.S. supplier of powder infant formula, including Similac, said it has enough existing supply of the baby formula until new products are available.

“Abbott has ample existing supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet needs for these products until new product is available,” it said in a statement.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday night, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said Abbott and other producers continue to make formula at “higher-than-average rates”.

“This means that the total amount of formula available, even before the Sturgis plant is back in production, exceeds the demand for formula prior to the recall,” Califf tweeted.

Abbott said it will resume production of EleCare once the plant is re-sanitized and added that it will work to restart production of Similac “as soon as possible”.

FDA’s Califf said once Abbott establishes a plan, the agency will be back in the facility to ensure the company can restart quickly.

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