More baby formula will soon hit store shelves, FDA says
Millions of cans of baby formula will hit U.S. store shelves in the coming weeks and help ease a nationwide baby formula shortage, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Abbott Nutrition of Illinois plans to ship 300,000 cans of specialty formula, the FDA said Tuesday. But those supplies won't be released until after the company's plant in Sturgis, Michigan, reopens on June 4.
On top of Abbott's shipment, U.K.-based Kendal Nutricare said it is sending 2 million cans of formula to the U.S., with those products expected be in stores next month, the FDA said. The shipment from Kendal might be the first of many overseas baby formula shipments, FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said in a statement.
"We anticipate additional infant formula products may be safely and quickly imported into the U.S. in the near-term based on ongoing discussions with manufacturers and suppliers worldwide," he said.
Supplies of baby formula have become scare this spring, prompting major retailers like Target and Walgreens to limit the amount shoppers can buy.
Supply-chain woes are partially to blame because manufacturers are finding it tough to get key ingredients and hire enough workers for their production plants.
The formula shortage reached a critical stage when Abbott's plant in Sturgis, Michigan, the largest baby formula facility in the U.S.. instituted a massive recall in February after parents reported their children falling ill after consuming the company's products. The FDA later reported that Abbott had unsanitary conditions at its plant.
Abbott plans to release EleCare infant formula, but only for "individuals needing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of this specialty formula," the FDA said. In a statement, Abbott said it's aiming to ship the product around June 20.
The EleCare shipment slated to go out next month was not part of the batch of formula recalled in February, FDA officials said. Still, the upcoming shipment "will undergo enhanced microbiological testing before release," the agency said. Abbott also produces other popular formula brands, including Similac and Alimentum.
Kendal's incoming shipment of Kendamil brand formula will come from a factory that can technically produce 10 million cans of formula a year but is currently operating at half capacity, the company said. Kendal has created a website so U.S. customers can track exactly when the formula shipment will arrive at nearby stores.
"We have received the call for assistance from the FDA and Kendamil stands ready to act," Kendal Nutricare CEO Ross McMahon said in a statement.
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