Abbott Laboratories has halted production of baby formula once again after reopening 11 days prior, a statement from the company said.
The company closed its Sturgis plant in southwestern Michigan on Wednesday, June 15 after thunderstorms and heavy rains flooded the facility.
The company had begun producing “EleCare and other specialty and metabolic formulas” on June 4, the company said, and planned to have it on sale “on or about June 20.” Now, with the plant’s closure, the production and distribution of the baby formula will “likely” be delayed “for a few weeks.”
The company said it has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The plant will be cleaned and re-sanitized, and be reviewed by an independent third party, to “ensure the plant is safe to resume production.”
The plant had yet to restart the production of its Similac product, the release said, adding that the company will resume making it “as soon as possible.”
In February, Abbott’s plant shut down and its products were recalled when five infants fell ill, two of whom died, after consuming Abbott formula products, the FDA said. Abbot is one of the nation’s largest formula suppliers.
The CDC reported in 2018 that while about 83 percent of babies are breastfed in the beginning, by age 6 months only 25 percent breastfeed exclusively.
That’s led many parents to be hunting for formula. Some are using social media, where parents can alert each other to places where formula is available.
“We have a Facebook page and so anytime any of the neighbors go to the store, they post a picture of the formula aisle and post it on the page with a timestamp so that people in the community know where to go if they’re looking for a specific one,” one parent told KCRA3.
Others are looking to social media marketplaces. This route, though, can be risky with scammers lurking around the corner.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers be leery of ads or social media posts that claim to have baby formula available.Some ways to avoid falling for such scams include watching for grammatical errors and misspellings, as well as checking the business’s website prior to making a purchase to ensure they accept credit card payments.
Parents should not, however, resort to making their own baby formula, the FDA advises. Homemade formula, the agency said, could “lack nutrients vital to an infant’s growth.”
“The FDA has recently received adverse event reports of hospitalized infants suffering from hypocalcemia (low calcium) that had been fed homemade infant formula,” the agency said.
Despite the months-long baby formula shortage, some officials seem optimistic about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said that, although the Abbott’s plant closure is “an unfortunate setback,” other formula producers are working 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 said on Twitter.
This story was originally published June 16, 2022 7:03 PM.