US increases imports of baby formula to ease shortages after Abbott Nutrition recalls

Senior Biden administration officials said the United States would increase imports of infant formula as part of an effort to ease a nationwide shortage.

The shortage of formula is due in part to the closure of a manufacturing plant in Michigan after two infants consuming its product contracted the bacteria and died.

Officials said the Food and Drug Administration would announce specific actions to boost infant formula imports in the coming days. The US produces 98% of the infant formula consumed. Chile, Ireland, Mexico and the Netherlands are potential sources of imports, according to officials.

Abbott Nutrition, the nation’s largest manufacturer of infant formula, issued a recall in February for several fortified formulas. The move comes after four infants who consumed products from the plant in Sturgis, Michigan, were hospitalized with Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria. Two of the infants died.

Abbott has closed its Sturgis plant and is recalling Similac PM 60/40, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare infant formula manufactured at its Michigan facility. The company said Cronobacter sakazakii was found at the plant, but not in the production areas. According to Abbott, all finished products tested were negative for the bacteria.

FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have instructed parents to check Abbott’s website to find out if they have a recalled product. The FDA is advising consumers not to use the recalled Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare powdered infant formula.

Factory closures and recalls have left parents scrambling to find infant formula.

During the first week of May, 43% of baby formula supplies were out of stock at stores across the United States, according to Datasembly, a company that tracks retail data. Abbott said it could restart the Sturgis plant within two weeks if the FDA allows the shutdown, but it will take up to eight weeks for the product to arrive in stores.

President Joe Biden met earlier on Thursday with Walmart, Target, Reckitt and Gerber to discuss how to alleviate the shortage. Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to use its power to monitor reports of racketeering amid shortages, and the Justice Department is working with the state’s attorney general to respond to the behavior. predation by retailers, administration officials said.

CDC has not identified any additional infections associated with the formulation provided and has close its investigation. It has called on state health departments to report any cases of Cronobacter infection in infants they find.

According to the CDC, Cronobacter can cause blood infections or cause the lining around the brain and spinal cord to swell. Symptoms include fever, poor feeding, excessive fussiness, exasperation, and convulsions.

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