Abbott CEO 'Sorry' for Company's Role in Baby Formula Shortage, Vows to Supply More: 'We Fell Short'

·2 min read
Abbott Chairman of the Board and CEO Robert B. Ford delivers a keynote address at CES 2022 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, is being held in person through January 7, with some companies deciding to participate virtually only or canceling their attendance due to concerns over the major surge in COVID-19 cases.
Abbott Chairman of the Board and CEO Robert B. Ford delivers a keynote address at CES 2022 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, is being held in person through January 7, with some companies deciding to participate virtually only or canceling their attendance due to concerns over the major surge in COVID-19 cases.

Ethan Miller/Getty

Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert Ford is apologizing for his company's role in the nationwide baby formula shortage, vowing to correct the situation in an op-ed for The Washington Post Saturday.

"We're sorry to every family we've let down since our voluntary recall exacerbated our nation's baby formula shortage," he wrote. "I have high expectations of this company, and we fell short of them."

The baby formula shortage is worsening each day with reports by Datasembly showing the national out-of-stock rate hit a high of 43 percent for the first week of May.

Though the shortages of some formulas first emerged late last year, amid the pandemic, they heightened in February when the FDA announced Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest producers of baby formula in the U.S., recalled its powdered baby formula due to possible contamination of cronobacter and salmonella.

"We know that some children have been hospitalized because of the lack of EleCare, a specialized formula for children who cannot digest other formulas and milks," Ford said. "I will not mince words — this is tragic and heartbreaking, and it is consuming my thoughts and those of my colleagues. Our highest priority is getting babies safe, quality formula they need as fast as possible."

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A sign on a nearly empty shelf informs customers that baby formula sales are limited to four units per child at a Target store. Baby formula has been in short supply for months at stores in the United States due to product recalls and supply chain issues. Target reported a 52% drop in profit for the first quarter of 2022. The company blamed higher expenses due to supply chain disruptions.
A sign on a nearly empty shelf informs customers that baby formula sales are limited to four units per child at a Target store. Baby formula has been in short supply for months at stores in the United States due to product recalls and supply chain issues. Target reported a 52% drop in profit for the first quarter of 2022. The company blamed higher expenses due to supply chain disruptions.

Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

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Ford added that the company "will not take risks when it comes to the health of children" and detailed a number of "serious steps" Abbott is taking to recover from the shortage. He vowed that by the end of June, they will supply more baby formula to Americans than they were before the recall.

The actions included converting production lines for adult nutrition products to prioritize production of baby formula and shipping products from overseas to the U.S.

"These steps we're taking won't end the struggles of families today," Ford ended. "Some solutions will take weeks, others will take longer, but we will not rest until it is done. I will not rest. I want everyone to trust us to do what is right, and I know that must be earned back."

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