When Abbott Laboratories, one of the largest manufacturers of baby formula in the US, closed a facility in Michigan in February after the Food and Drug Administration announced it was investigating links between infants who contracted bacterial infections—which possibly led to two deaths—and formula Produced at the plant, it sparked the major shortage that’s exacerbated by supply-chain delays and rising inflation.

Key Facts

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Abbott produces Similac, one of the few brands of formula available for sale in the US due to strict regulations from the FDA—a 2011 report from the USDA found that Abbott accounted for 43% of total market sales.

The FDA warned consumers in February not to use certain formulas produced in Abbott’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan, as it investigated reports that several children who contracted serious bacterial infections from Cronobacter sakazakii and salmonella had links to the formula—and two of the infected children died, with cronobacter a possible contributor to the deaths, according to the FDA,

The same day, Abbott issued a voluntary recall for Similac, Alimentum and EleCare produced in the Michigan facility, and shut down the facility—which remains shuttered nearly three months later.

In March, the FDA released initial findings of its investigation, stemming from in-person inspections of the plant that started in late January, which included a history of contamination with the cronobacter bacteria—eight instances between fall 2019 and February 2022—and a failure to maintain clean surfaces used in handling and producing the formula.

Abbott said in a statement last month that samples of formula from the Sturgis, Michigan, facility separately tested by Abbott and the FDA did not test positive for Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella, though the FDA noted in a statement that there were a limited number of samples tested.

Shares of Abbott Laboratories are down nearly 23% so far this year.


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