Abbott CEO apologizes for shortage of baby formula in Washington Post

The Abbott manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, on May 13, 2022.

Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | beautiful pictures

Abbott Laboratories Robert Ford CEO apologized Saturday in a new editorial for his corporate role Given the nationwide baby formula shortage, this week prompted Congress and the Biden administration to take urgent actions to alleviate the situation.

Ford also detailed the steps the company is taking to prevent shortages, and stated, “We’re making significant investments to make sure this never happens again.”

Ford’s apology in an op-ed of the Washington Post notes that the shortage stemmed from the company’s February recall of formula milk at Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after federal health officials found a bacteria that could potentially cause dead there. The factory is responsible for producing up to 25% of the nation’s infant formula.

“We at Abbott take great pride in helping people with diabetes check their sugar, provide vital coronavirus testing, and build heart-saving devices,” Ford wrote in the op-ed.

“And yes, we take great pride in producing nutrition and formula to feed America’s infants, including our most vulnerable,” Ford wrote. “But the past few months have made us miserable because they have you, and so I want to say: We apologize to every family we have been disappointed since our voluntary recall exacerbated the problem. add our country lack of formula milk. “

Ford wrote that Abbott believes a voluntary recall “is the right thing to do.”

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

Four infants fed formula from the Michigan factory were hospitalized with bacterial infections. Two of the infants died.

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

“However, FDA investigation discovered a bacterium in our plants that we just can’t tolerate. I had high expectations for this company, and we fell short of them,” Ford wrote.

The apology was made a few hours after the President Joe Biden signed into law the newly passed Baby Formula Access Act, which aims to make it easier for families eligible for the federal WIC program to purchase formula. WIC is officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act To deal with formula shortages, require suppliers to turn over ingredients to infant formula manufacturers before any other companies may have ordered similar products.

On Sunday, US military aircraft are scheduled to fly 132 pallets of Nestle baby formula to Indianapolis, Indiana, from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. More formulations are expected to be flown on US military planes by then.

During Saturday’s press conference, Ford outlined the steps Abbott has taken to deal with the shortage, writing that he knows “several children have been hospitalized for lack of EleCare, a formula milk Specially designed for babies who cannot digest other types of formula and milk. “

“Due to their unique needs, disqualified children may need medical supervision until formula is returned to store shelves,” Ford writes. “I won’t interrupt – this is tragic and heartbreaking, and it is consuming my thoughts and those of my colleagues.”

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Ford said Abbott will “prioritize EleCare when it comes to producing the case and getting it out the front door,” and has set up a $5 million fund for families affected by the lack of EleCare at the cost of EleCare. health and living.

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

“What’s available has been rigorously tested and is ready for your kids,” he wrote.

Ford noted that Abbott has transformed the production of its adult nutritional products at a plant in Columbus, Ohio, “to prioritize production of infant formula.”

“And we have shipped millions of cans of our most widely used infant formula from an FDA-approved facility in Ireland to the United States since the recall,” he wrote.

Ford said Abbott expects to restart the Sturgis plan in the first week of June, after signing an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration.

After the factory reopens, he writes, it will take six to eight weeks before formula from the facility is available on store shelves.

But he also said, “When we operate at full capacity our Michigan facility, we will more than double our current infant formula production for the United States.”

“By the end of June, we will be making more formula available to Americans than we did in January before the recall.

“The steps we are taking will not end the struggle of today’s families,” Ford wrote. “Some solutions will take weeks, others will take longer, but we won’t rest until it’s done. I won’t rest. I want people to trust us. do what’s right and I know that it has to be earned.”

Read the complete Washington Post article here.

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