NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – The Justice Department is investigating an Abbott Laboratories baby formula manufacturing plant in Michigan that was closed for months last year because of contamination, the company confirmed.
The factory closures in February 2022 were a major reason for the nationwide shortage of infant formula, which forced parents to seek formula at food banks, friends and doctors’ offices. Production resumed in June.
Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel said in an email that the Justice Department informed Abbott Laboratories of its investigation and that the company is “cooperating fully.” He declined to give further details.
The Wall Street Journal newspaper first reported the investigation, adding that the Justice Department’s consumer protection branch is probing the conduct at the plant in Sturgis, Michigan, that led to its closure.
Abbott closed the factory after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating bacterial infections among infants who consumed plant-powder formula. Investigators discovered numerous violations at the plant, including bacterial contamination, a leaky roof and lax safety protocols. But Abbott has claimed that its products have not been directly linked to the infection, which involves different strains of the bacteria.
Abbott is one of four companies that make 90% of baby formula in the United States, and limited supplies of several major brands, including Similac, in February due to supply chain disruptions and reservations made during the COVID-19 lockdown. Was fed up since then. ,
The shortage was particularly severe for babies with allergies, digestive problems and metabolic disorders who relied on specialized formulas. The Abbott factory is the sole source for many of these products.
The FDA has come under severe criticism for closing the plant and then taking months to negotiate to reopen it.