A woman holds her baby in front of baby products at a supermarket

Baby food factory linked to contamination, US shortages reopened

US baby food manufacturer Abbott Nutrition says its manufacturing facility – closed for months due to contamination – has reopened, taking a step toward alleviating a nationwide shortage that leaves parents scrambling for supplies.

The February shutdown of the largest formula factory in the US led to delivery problems that have forced some parents to source formulas from food banks, friends and doctors’ offices.

Abbott said it would initially prioritize manufacturing its special EleCare formulas for infants with severe food allergies and digestive problems who had few other feeding options.

The company said it would take about three weeks for the new formula to reach consumers from the factory.

“We will ramp up production as soon as possible while meeting all requirements,” Abbott said in a statement.

In response to the supply shortage, the administration of US President Joe Biden has relaxed import rules for foreign manufacturers, flown formulas from Europe and invoked emergency federal regulations to prioritize US production.

Parents in the US struggle to find baby food due to supply disruptions.AP: Michael Conroy

Robert Califf, commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recently said it could take about two months for formula supply in the country to return to normal levels.

The FDA has waived many of its regulatory requirements to accept more formulas from the UK, Australia and other countries.

The government ordered about 1.25 million cans of formula from Sydney-based manufacturer Bubs Australia to help alleviate the shortages.

Deficiency Seriously Affects Babies With Allergies, Digestive Problems

Abbott closed the plant in Sturgis, Michigan, in February after the FDA began investigating four bacterial infections in infants who consumed powdered formulas of the plant.

Two of the babies died.

The company continues to state that its products have not been directly linked to the infections, which involved several strains of bacteria.

FDA inspectors eventually uncovered a myriad of violations at the plant, including bacterial contamination, a leaking roof, lax safety protocols and a lack of adequate hand washing among staff.

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