Tracking the True Cause of the Baby Formula Shortage
By now, when you see a headline about a sudden shortage of something you can guess “strained supply chain.” But as panicking parents work overtime to hunt down a case of baby formula on store shelves, a more complicated – and potentially dangerous – reason has emerged.
Abbott Laboratories, a Michigan-based baby formula manufacturer, shut down its Sturgis, MI, facility in February due to a federal investigation. Three formula products had been recalled after reports of infant illness and at least two reported deaths. One pathogen linked to child illness was found in this facility during environmental testing, though Abbott says it was found in “nonproduct contact areas.”
Whether or not this is the cause of the illnesses, the facility is still awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration to restart production – meaning it could be six to eight weeks before products reach stores.
In the meantime, the baby formula supply remains strained, with recent estimates that 40% of formula was out of stock in more than 11,000 stores across the U.S.