Baby formula shortage could ease as Abbott plant reopens

STORY: Abbott Laboratories said on Saturday that it has reopened its baby formula production plant in Sturgis, Michigan, taking a step toward alleviating an acute nationwide shortage that has sent parents scrambling for supplies.

The company said it will begin production of EleCare and other specialty and metabolic formulas, with initial EleCare product release to consumers beginning on or about June 20.

The plant shutdown and a recall of infant formula had deepened a supply shortage in a nation where, according to federal data from 2020, less than half of babies were exclusively breast-fed through their first three months.

With parents growing increasingly desperate and frustrated, the Biden administration accelerated what it has dubbed "Operation Fly Formula" to help fill store shelves.

The administration relaxed its import policy and invoked the Defense Production Act to help increase available U.S. supplies, flying in infant formula from abroad to help ease the shortage.

Abbott started a recall in February after reports of bacterial infections in children who had consumed the formula made at the plant.

U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Food and Drug Administration for not acting promptly to address the problems that caused the recall at Abbott's Michigan plant.

Abbott has said there is no evidence to link its formulas to the illnesses, while the FDA's inspection found bacteria in environmental testing and not in the product samples.

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