Pediatricians Issue Grave Warning After FDA Refuses to Reopen Formula Plant


Parents are getting desperate and their doctors are concerned about a 40 percent shortage of infant baby formula and stores limiting the amount of purchases.

A central player in the crisis is an Abbott Laboratories formula production plant in Sturgis, Michigan. In addition to issuing recalls of several of its infant formula products, the Sturgis plant shut down Feb. 17 following U.S. Food and Drug Administration allegations of unsanitary practices, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.

Three children died from bacterial infection and there were other serious illnesses, but Abbot denies responsibility.

Nearly three months later, the plant is still closed, and there are calls to reopen it in spite of the earlier-reported cleanliness problems.

“There’s still some risk from the formula because we know there are problems at the plant and FDA hasn’t identified a root cause,” according to Sarah Sorscher of the nutritional advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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“But it’s worth releasing because these infants might die without it,” she said.

Dr. Steven Abrams, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “For babies who are not being breastfed, this is the only thing they eat.” Infant formula, he said “has to have all of their nutrition and, furthermore, it needs to be properly prepared so that it’s safe for the smallest infants.”

Of critical concern are babies dependent on specialty formulas because of food allergies and other issues, including digestive problems. Many of the specialty formulas, according to Abrams, are only made at the Abbott Sturgis plant.

In April, Abbott announced free physician- and hospital-coordinated distribution of some specialty formulas not involved in the recalls.

Despite possible risks, should the FDA allow the Abbott plant to reopen?

But the FDA has refused to say when it might clear the Sturgis plant for reopening.

That has incensed Sen. Mitt Romney, a RINO from Utah, who dashed off a letter to the FDA  demanding to know when the plant will be back online. He also criticized FDA inspections of the facility that go back to September 2021.

A problem with baby formula is that it, like so many American goods and services, is produced by only a small number of companies, an oligopoly.

Disintegration of the baby formula supply chain began last year, as misdirected government mandates created COVID-based lockdowns, which undercut labor and transportation supplies. Parents stockpiling during lockdowns also affected normal market forces, the Daily Mail said.

Many recipients of baby formula participate in the federal Women, Infants and Children subsidy program. Brian Dittmeir, who directs public policy at the WIC Association, said, “’Unlike other food recalls, shortages in the infant formula supply affects a major – or even exclusive – source of nutrition for babies.

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“Inadequate nutrition could have long-term health implications for babies. Supply shortages are particularly acute for infants who require specialty formulas to address allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or metabolic disorders; adequate substitutes with other brands may not be easily identifiable,” Dittmeir said, according to the Daily Mail.

The Biden administration, which has no regard for unborn babies, is being forced to pay attention to those already born.

Asked about the formula shortage, outgoing White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki launched a string of MBA-speak buzzwords “… taking a number of steps … increasing production … stock on the shelves … optimize their supply lines …. prioritizing product lines … exercising flexibility and expediting review of notifications of manufacturing changes … blah, blah, blah.”

That’s a response that should make the families of babies feel much better.

Around the country, more individuals are realizing the government and major corporate, medical and other institutions are no longer capable of supporting the American lifestyle we’ve been accustomed to.

The term “Third World” is increasingly being attached to some of the conditions of the United States. We’re not there yet, thankfully, but things are increasingly falling apart.

As a result, more families are turning inward regarding educating children and providing for their own food and health care. Undoubtedly, many women considering motherhood may realize breastfeeding, if possible for them, may become their default choice for feeding infants.

After all, whose role is it to take care of the children? The government’s or the parents’?

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.