Shortage of infant formula: Out of stock rates rise to 70%
The infant formula shortage continues to worsen as infant formula makers and the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to face bipartisan questioning over what led to the national crisis.
For the week ending May 22, infant formula stock outs rose to 70% nationwide, according to recent data from retail data firm Datasembly. It’s a significant increase from the previous week when the national infant formula stockpile rate was 45%.
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In April, data showed that Formula shortfall hit 30% before jumping to 43% By early May, confirming how the situation gets worse before it gets better.
Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility, which has exacerbated industry-wide shortages, is expected to resume production on June 4, meaning products from the plant won’t return to store shelves until at least mid-July, according to the company’s production schedule.
Baby formula shortage: Out of stock rate hits 45% nationwide in May
In February, Abbott temporarily shut down the plant and issued a recall of some of its formula after the Food and Drug Administration discovered positive samples of rare but dangerous bacteria in multiple parts of the plant.
Lawmakers questioned US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf again Wednesday during a congressional hearing about why the agency took months to inspect and shut down the plant despite learning of potential problems as early as September.
FDA staff began focusing on the Abbott plant last fall while tracking several bacterial infections in infants who fed formula from the facility. The four cases occurred between September and January, resulting in hospitalizations and two deaths.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planned to begin inspections of the plant on December 30, according to Califf’s testimony. But Abbott cautioned that about a dozen factory employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and requested a delay. As a result, the FDA did not begin inspections until January 31
Abbott mentions Similac, other baby formulas after 4 reported illnesses.
The agency has yet to come to a conclusion as to whether bacteria in the plant have caused the infants to become infected, although Abbott said there was no direct evidence linking its products to disease.
Abbott Vice President Christopher Calamari apologized to lawmakers during questioning Wednesday, though he avoided questions about whether employees had been disciplined or fired for problems at the plant, which included standing water, a leaky roof and damaged equipment.
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“He let you down,” said Calamari. “We are very sorry.”
Brick Dumas of FOX Business and The Associated Press contributed to this report.