Abbott Manufacturing Plant in Sturgis, Michigan, May 13, 2022.

Jeff Kowalski | AFP | Getty Images

Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert Ford apologized Saturday in a new article for his campaign’s role in the nationwide shortage of baby formulas, which this week prompted Congress and the Biden administration to take emergency measures to alleviate it.

Ford also described in detail the steps the company is taking to end the deficit, and promised: “We are making significant investments to ensure that this never happens again.”

A Ford apology in a Washington Post article notes that the flaw was caused by the company’s recall in February of a formula produced at the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after federal health officials discovered a potentially deadly bacterium there. The plant was responsible for producing up to 25% of the baby formula in the country.

“We at Abbott are very proud to help people with diabetes test their glucose levels by providing critical tests for coronavirus and making heart-saving devices,” Ford wrote in the article.

“And yes, we are proud to produce food and formulas to feed children in America, including our most vulnerable,” Ford wrote. “But the last few months have upset us, as well as you, and so I want to say: we feel sorry for every family we have let down, because the voluntary recall has exacerbated the shortage of infant formula in our country.”

Ford wrote that Abbott believed the voluntary recall “was right”.

“We will not take risks when it comes to children’s health,” he wrote.

Four children who drank the mixture from a plant in Michigan were hospitalized with bacterial infections. Two of the babies died.

But in April, federal health officials told NBC News that the bacterial strains found in these infants did not match the strains found at the Abbott facility.

“However, an FDA investigation has found a bacterium in our plant that we will not tolerate. I have high expectations from this company, and we did not live up to them, ”Ford wrote.

The apology came hours after President Joe Biden signed the recently passed law on access to infant formula, which aims to make it easier for families eligible to participate in the federal WIC program to purchase the formula. WIC is officially known as a special supplementary nutrition program for women, infants and children.

Biden on Wednesday cited the Defense Manufacturing Act to address the shortage of formula, requiring suppliers to send ingredients to baby formula makers earlier than any other company that could order the same products.

On Sunday, U.S. military planes are to send 132 pallets of Nestle baby formula to Indianapolis, Indiana, from Ramstein Air Force Base in German. More formulas are expected to appear later on U.S. military aircraft.

In his article on Saturday, Ford described the steps Abbott took in response to the shortage, writing that he knew that “some children were hospitalized due to lack of EleCare, a specialized formula for children who cannot digest other formulas and milk. “

“Given their unique needs, children who lose access to it may need medical supervision until the formula is returned to the shelves,” Ford writes. “I will not cut words – it is tragic and painful, and it absorbs my thoughts and the thoughts of my colleagues.”

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Ford said Abbott “will give EleCare priority in resuming production and will bring it to the door first and foremost” and has meanwhile set up a $ 5 million fund for families affected by EleCare’s absence, with medical and living expenses.

He also wrote that consumers “can feel safe buying any Abbott product you find on store shelves.”

“What is there has been rigorously tested and is ready for your children,” he wrote.

Ford noted that Abbott has transformed adult food production lines at a plant in Columbus, Ohio, “to prioritize the production of ready-to-feed liquid infant formulas.”

“Since the recall, we have been shipping millions of cans of our most widely used baby powder mix from an FDA-approved plant in Ireland to the United States,” he wrote.

Ford said Abbott expects to restart Sturgis’ plan in the first week of June after receiving a degree of agreement with the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

He wrote that once the plant reopens, it will take six to eight weeks before the formula from the facility becomes available on store shelves.

But he also said: “If we work at our Michigan facility at full capacity, we will more than double our current baby powder mix production for the United States.”

“By the end of June, we will be supplying Americans with more formulas than in January before the recall.

“These steps we are taking will not stop today’s family struggle,” Ford wrote. “Some decisions will take weeks, others will take longer, but we are not resting until it is done. I will not calm down. I want everyone to trust us to do what is needed and I know it needs to be brought back.”

Read the full Washington Post article here.

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