FDA agrees on plan to resume production of infant formula at Sturgis, Michigan plant
Sturgis, MI --- Moms and dads of infant children across the country are desperate to find formula to feed their kids.
Two young children with special nutritional needs in Tennessee have been hospitalized because the parents can’t find the kind of formula they need.
"this is literally not just Memphis, not just Tennessee or the south. This is literally all of North America being affected,” Dr. Mark Corkins, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist, said.
There is hope on the horizon for parents. The FDA reached an agreement with Abbott Nutrition Tuesday, the nation's largest formula maker, to restart production at its largest factory in Sturgis, Michigan.
In order to reopen, the agency says the facility must retain an independent expert to review operations, create sanitation and environmental monitoring plans, and develop employee training programs.
In February, the FDA shut down the Abbott Plant due to alleged unsanitary conditions at the facility that was potentially linked to two infants dying and two others getting sick.
"This recall started in February. Even if you have several weeks of stock, we're now out for the special formulas. But literally, the formula recall has led to these children requiring hospitalization," Dr. Corkins said.
In a statement, Abbott says the FDA and CDC found no "conclusive evidence" to link Abbott’s formulas to the infant’s illnesses.
Now, Abbott says it will take two weeks to restart operations and up to two months to get its products back onto shelves.
"I would like to see somehow that our folks work to prevent this. I don't want this to ever happen again,” Dr. Corkins said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies over six months can have whole cow's milk as a substitute, if they don't need special formula to address medical needs.
Another positive sign for families struggling to find vital baby formula, the FDA says it's moving to import brands of formula from abroad currently not sold in the US.
The US usually produces 98 percent of the infant formula it consumes.
Officials say the imported formula could potentially come from the UK, Australia and New Zealand - nations that have safety and health inspection systems similar to the US.