The baby formula goes on sale in a large store on January 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
The United States will increase imports of infant formula as part of an effort to alleviate a nationwide shortage, senior officials from the Biden administration said Thursday.
The shortage of infant formula was triggered in part by the closure of a Michigan manufacturing facility after two babies who consumed its products contracted bacterial infections and died.
The Food and Drug Administration will announce specific actions to increase imports of formulas in the coming days, officials said. The United States produces 98% of the infant formula it consumes. Chile, Ireland, Mexico and the Netherlands are potential sources of additional imports, according to officials.
Abbott Nutrition, the nation’s largest infant formula producer, issued a recall in February for several fed formulas. The move came after four children who consumed products from its Sturgis, Michigan plant were hospitalized with infections from the Cronobacter sakazakii bacterium. Two of the children died.
Abbott closed its Sturgis plant and recalled its Similac PM 60/40, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powered formulas manufactured at the Michigan plant. The company said Cronobacter sakazakii was found at the plant, but not in the areas where it produces the product. All the finished product tested was negative for bacteria, according to Abbott.
The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have instructed parents to monitor Abbott’s website to find out if they have a recalled product. The FDA advises consumers not to use recalled Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare infant formula powders.
The closure and withdrawal of the facility left parents looking for infant formula.
During the first week of May, 43% of infant formula supplies were out of stores in the United States, according to Datasembly, a company that tracks retail data. Abbott said it can restart the Sturgis plant within two weeks if the FDA approves, but it will take up to 8 weeks for the products to arrive in stores.
President Joe Biden met with Walmart, Target, Reckitt and Gerber Thursday to discuss ways to alleviate the shortage. Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to use his power to monitor reports of price scams amid the shortage, and the Justice Department is working with state attorneys general to tackle the predatory behavior of retailers, officials said. of the administration.
The CDC has not identified any additional cases of infection related to the formula fed, and it did closed his investigation. He asked state health departments to report any childhood Cronobacter infections they find.
Cronobacter can cause blood infections or cause the linings around the brain and spinal cord to swell, according to the CDC. Symptoms include fever, poor nutrition, excessive crying, very low energy, and seizures.