There are still people struggling to find specialized infant formula. FDA is failing us.
FDA released an internal report September 20 assessing what went wrong with shortages after the federal agency recommended consumers stop using Abbott Nutrition’s powdered infant formula on February 22 of this year. The Sturgis, MI manufacturing plant provides 40% of the product consumed in the U.S. and there was a problem with bacterial contamination. Since 2021 nine children have died. In the report FDA admitted, effectively, they really screwed up. The data systems are old they found belatedly, the staff not adequately prepared, and none of the systems were prepared to handle a catastrophe of the magnitude that Covid had multiplied. The plant flooding in June and closing again exacerbated a bad thing. The internal report suggested the agency work on fixing it.
“There’s a problem of an old facility that doesn’t use modern equipment, and from all accounts, in the FDA inspection report, has not been maintained in sanitary conditions,” says Mitzi Baum, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness.
Don’t look for changes to happen soon. Congress passed a Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, eleven years ago. None of it has been enacted yet, leaving the most vulnerable not well protected.
“We’re talking about infants two months of age or younger. This should have been a red flag. There should have been a sense of urgency associated with the apparitions at this particular plant,” adds Baum.
Babies born when the formula shortage first began are seven months old now. They’ll start getting a taste of more solid foods soon.
In the meantime, parents are still having trouble finding specialized formulas, mostly because of supply chain issues as the plant is back in operation.
photo: Getty Images