(WHTM) — On Monday May 16, the Food and Drug Administration announced it is making changes to increase the production and availability of baby formula. More specifically, the FDA says it plans on increasing imports and getting Abbott’s Michigan plant back open.
The FDA says its new guidance allows for flexibility for certain requirements when it comes to importing infant formula, which it hopes will help increase supply.
It also said at this time Abbott, one of the top makers of infant and metabolic formulas, has agreed to make some changes at its plant in Michigan, which could get it back up and running in about two weeks.
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Abbott voluntarily recalled some of its infant formula in February after a bacteria was linked to two infant deaths. Abbott has said there was “no conclusive evidence to link its formulas to those deaths.” Still, the FDA did find some bacteria in the plant itself, which is why it required the changes.
This shutdown has had a huge impact on Pennsylvania families who participate with WIC since Abbott has an exclusive contract.
The Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County (CAP) works with more than 9,000 participants in the WIC program who have struggled to find alternatives. Some are asking why the FDA wasn’t more proactive.
“While I applaud their efforts to take action so quickly, it really has been since February since this recall has happened, and not much action has taken place,” said Julie Rhoads, CAP’s vice president for health and nutrition. “We had alternatives, but there really wasn’t a deeper look at the supply chain and how that might be affected after months of having this recall.”
Even if Abbott is able to reopen its Michigan plant in two weeks, from that point it will take six to eight weeks for formula to hit store shelves.
The abc27 Investigators are looking into the legality of reselling formula amid the shortage. The short answer is that it is illegal, and in some cases, it could be considered fraud. They’ll have the long answer tonight. Watch the report at 5 and 6 or revisit this online story this evening for more.