United States | Baby milk shortage-related factory resumes operations

(Washington) The baby milk shortages affecting the United States may ease this month with the reopening of a factory owned by Abbott, the American company at the heart of this crisis confused in a recent apology before Congress.

Posted at 1:50 p.m

Abbott said in a statement Saturday that it is restarting its large Sturgis, Michigan (north) factory, which has been shut down for several months at the root of the massive shortage.

The manufacturer indicates that, after meeting the conditions set by the American Medicines Agency (FDA), the factory will start selling one of its products, the hypoallergenic EleCare milk, in particular, starting around June 20.

Abbott controls 40% of the baby milk market in the United States.

The manufacturer says it is “working hard” to resume production of another brand popular with American families, Similac, as well as the rest of its range.

“We understand the urgent need for infant formula, and our first priority is to provide families across the United States with safe, high-quality milk,” the statement said.

The world’s leading power has had baby milk supply issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic for some time, when Abbott announced a recall of products suspected of causing the deaths of two infants in February, as well as the closure of his milk factory, causing a severe shortage.

The group has already apologized profusely during a congressional hearing.

“We’re letting you down,” Abbott Nutrition chief executive Christopher Calamari said during a hearing before a congressional committee on parents facing shortages in late May.

He promised to “make sure that a shortage like this never happens again”.

“Lack of competition”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) described the Sturgis facility as unsanitary.

Robert Califf, the agency’s chief, spoke of “standing water in key equipment that has the potential for bacterial contamination,” “roof leaks,” or even basic hygiene like hand washing that leaves a lot to be desired.

According to IRI figures quoted by the Wall Street Journal, baby milk was missing from American stores by 20 to 25% in the past week.

The lack can be explained “by the lack of competition in this industry,” said Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Berkeley, on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Most of the baby milk market is dominated by four companies. Abbott Nutrition has a 40% market share. When I say that monopolies are dangerous, that’s why,” said the former labor minister.

To remedy the shortage, the Biden administration, which has been accused of responding too late, set up a form of airlift to bring in tons of foreign-made baby milk on military planes.

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