May 16, 2022 -- The Abbott baby formula factory in Sturgis, Mich., that was shut down in February could reopen in about two weeks, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said Monday on the “Today” show.
“We now have a path forward,” Califf said. “Abbott is responsible for the timeline, but I’m very comfortable with what they said about two weeks. … That’s entirely within the realm of possibility and I think quite likely.”
Reopening the plant could help ease a severe shortage of powdered baby formula that occurred because of supply chain issues and the recall of some of Abbott products produced at the Sturgis plant. The FDA said some of those formulas had been linked to cases of bacterial infection in children, including two fatal cases.
The FDA closed its investigation of the Sturgis factory last week. Califf said the FDA will find out why it took months to shut down the Sturgis plant after reports of problems there.
While the formula shortage is acute, Califf said he doesn’t expect it to last through the end of the year.
“We’re taking a number of measures, including getting all the manufacturers to step up, getting the Sturgis plant up and going, but also importing a product that was intended for other countries,” he said. “That’s well under way now. And in fact, I expect by the end of the day today, we’re likely to have an announcement about that path forward.”
The United States currently doesn’t import baby formula from abroad. Califf said that the FDA will have to test the imported formula to make sure it’s safe.
The White House has communicated with the biggest baby formula makers about expanding the amount of formula produced and eliminating supply chain issues, NBC News reported Monday, citing an unnamed White House official. The official also said the administration is talking with Amazon, Target, and Walmart about identifying regions of the U.S. with critically low supplies of formula.
The Biden administration has also introduced a website to provide information for parents having trouble finding baby formula. The website lists contact information for baby food manufacturers and local food banks and offers safety guidelines, CNN reported.