Less than two weeks after restarting production at its Sturgis plant, Abbott said it has once again been forced to halt baby formula production after thunderstorms flooded part of the facility.
“These torrential storms produced significant rainfall in a short period of time, overwhelming the city’s stormwater system in Sturgis, Michigan, and resulting in flooding in parts of the city, including areas of our plant,” an Abbott spokesperson told ABC News. “As a result, Abbott has stopped production of its EleCare specialty formula that was underway to assess damage caused by the storm and clean and re-sanitize the plant. We have informed FDA and will conduct comprehensive testing in conjunction with the independent third party to ensure the plant is safe to resume production.”
Abbott’s plant was offline for roughly four months after serious quality control and contamination concerns. Its massive recall and plant shutdown in February exacerbated the nationwide formula crisis American families are still experiencing.
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said he has personally spoken with Abbott’s CEO, Robert Ford, saying they discussed their “shared desire to get the facility up and running again as quickly as possible.”
Califf added that the storms are a “reminder that natural weather events can also cause unforeseen supply chain disruptions.”
“I want to reassure consumers the all-of-government work to increase supply means we’ll have more than enough product to meet current demand,” Califf said in a series of tweets.
Abbott had promised to start putting out its hypoallergenic formula EleCare to consumers around June 20. Infants with particular nutritional needs will have to wait longer for an infusion of formula from Abbott, the largest domestic manufacturer of infant formula prior to its recall.
“Once the plant is re-sanitized and production resumes, we will again begin EleCare production, followed by specialty and metabolic formulas,” the spokesperson told ABC News. “In parallel, we will work to restart Similac production at the plant as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Abbott said it still 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 these products “are being released to consumers in need in coordination with healthcare professionals.”
“Abbott will have produced 8.7 million pounds of infant formula in June for the U.S., or the equivalent of 168.2 million 6-ounce feedings. This is 95% of what we produced in January, prior to the recall and does not include production from Sturgis,” the company spokesperson said.