The Reason A Baby Formula Plant Just Stopped Production

Parents are hoping to finally put the nationwide 2022 baby formula shortage behind them this summer. The infant milk alternative — which has been thin on the ground for months on account of a two-pronged recall of Abbott Laboratories baby formula, not to mention increased demand and supply chain issues left over from early pandemic stockpiling — could trickle back onto shelves at retailers like Walgreens, Target, and CVS as early as July, according to the FDA Commissioner

As a major U.S. provider of baby formula, Abbott's aforementioned recalls caused quite a stir. Shortly after its initial recall in February, which was due to the detection of the bacteria cronobacter sakazakii in some of its bottles, Abbott wiped its products from the shelves again in March after use of the contaminated formulas allegedly contributed to five infant hospitalizations and two deaths, per the FDA. With the recalls largely to blame, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson writes that the baby formula shortage has "gone from curious inconvenience to full-blown national crisis."

It's been less than two weeks since Abbott resumed production of its EleCare specialty formula (via CNBC), but the company is putting its bottles on hold yet again due to a tragically timed event that hit the pharma company's Sturgis, Michigan factory this week. According to the Wall Street Journal, the event will "delay production by a few weeks." 

Flooding at the Abbott factory will cause delays

The Abbott baby formula plant was subject to severe Michigan thunder and rain storms this week, leaving the company no choice but to temporarily halt production of its EleCare formula yet again, the Wall Street Journal reports. Abbott released a statement on Wednesday, writing that the storm resulted in "power outages and flood damage throughout the area," including significant areas of the plant. "We have informed FDA and will conduct comprehensive testing in conjunction with the independent third party to ensure the plant is safe to resume production," notes the company, adding that the damage will "delay production and distribution of new product for a few weeks."

Until it's safe for Abbott to resume production, the company is relying on its backup supply, which is primarily reserved for consumers in need. "Abbott has ample existing supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet needs for these products until new product is available," reads the statement. The company urges parents or caregivers seeking emergency formula to call 1-800-881-0876.