Abbott apologises for baby formula shortage in US

Published May 26, 2022
A woman shops for baby formula at Target in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 16, 2022, as a nationwide shortage of baby formula continues.—AFP
A woman shops for baby formula at Target in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 16, 2022, as a nationwide shortage of baby formula continues.—AFP

WASHINGTON: A top Abbott official apologised on Wednesday to US families affected by the baby formula shortage, telling them the manufacturer of the essential supply “let you down”.

“We are deeply sorry and are committed to making sure that a shortage like this never happens again,” said Christopher Calamari, the senior vice president of nutrition, in prepared testimony for a congressional committee hearing.

“It will take time” to regain families’ trust, he said, noting that the company is doing everything it can to resolve the crisis.

The United States has been struggling with a severe shortage of infant formula for months.

Initially caused by supply chain blockages and a lack of production workers due to the pandemic, the shortage exacerbated in February when, after the death of two infants, Abbott announced a “voluntary recall” for formula made at its factory in Michigan and shut down that location.

“We continue to believe that there is no conclusive evidence to link our formula” to the infant illnesses and deaths blamed on the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii, which was found in certain areas of the Michigan factory, Calamari said.

He said the samples that tested positive from the bacteria were taken from areas that “do not come into direct contact” with the formula.

Abbott’s Michigan plant is one of the largest formula factories in the United States, including specialised recipes for children with certain allergies or metabolic conditions.

The FDA said it has made a series of visits to the Sturgis, Michigan location, the last on March 18.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2022

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