A woman buys baby formulas at Target in Anapolis, Maryland, on May 16, 2022, when the country continues to have a shortage of baby formulas due to supply chains linked to the coronavirus pandemic that has already strained artificial mixes in the country. exacerbated by a major product recall in February.

Jim Watson AFP | Getty Images

Abbott has reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration to rebuild its Michigan manufacturing plant to help alleviate a nationwide shortage of baby formula, the company said Monday.

Abbott said it could restart the plant in Michigan within two weeks subject to FDA approval. However, according to the company, it will take six to eight weeks from the start of production for the mixture to appear on store shelves. The agreement between Abbott and the FDA, called the Consent Decree, is subject to court approval.

The Biden administration is also taking steps to import infant formula from other countries, White House spokeswoman Caryn Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday.

Mothers are struggling to find a mix for their babies amid a nationwide shortage that has left shelves in many stores empty. More than 40% of baby formulas were not available in the U.S. during the week ending May 8, according to Datasembly, a company that tracks retail data.

The supply shortage was partly caused by the closure of the Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan after four infants who used mixtures from that facility became ill with bacterial infections, two of whom later died. Abbott is the largest manufacturer of baby formulas in the United States

Inspections conducted by the Food and Drug Administration found at the plant in Sturgis, Michigan, the presence of the bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii, which can cause blood infections. Abbott’s internal records also showed that the company destroyed part of its product due to the presence of bacteria in the plant, according to the FDA.

In February, Abbott voluntarily recalled its Similac PM 60/40, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products, manufactured in Michigan. Last week, Abbott said that no formula distributed to consumers from the Sturgis plant tested positive for bacteria, and the genetic sequencing of two samples from sick infants did not match the Cronobacter strain found in the plant.

The FDA completed the audit in March. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not identified additional cases of chronobacter infection in infants after eating products from the facility in Michigan.

This is the latest news. Please check for updates.

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