The maker of the baby formula recalled earlier this year, contributing to nationwide shortages, says it agreed to enter into a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration that could lead to a restart in production.
Abbott Laboratories said the agreement, which will need court approval, outlines steps necessary to resume formula production at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan. It could take eight to 10 weeks after approval for new shipments of formula to arrive in stores.
“Our number one priority is getting infants and families the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage,” Abbott said in a statement.
It was unclear how soon the FDA might approve the plant reopening, the New York Times reported.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz urged President Biden and his administration to move swiftly so manufacturers can reopen and expand operations.
“For parents who rely on formula to feed their infant or small child, this shortage is nothing short of a crisis and I strongly urge you and your administration to take immediate action,” Cruz wrote Monday.
For months, parents across the country, including in North Texas, have struggled to find formula on store shelves. Texas is one of the states with the worst shortages, along with Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North and South Dakota.
“Your administration needs to act quickly to protect our nation’s children and help the thousands of American families who are struggling to access a basic need for their children,” Cruz wrote to Biden.
Abbott said once the FDA confirms the initial requirements for start-up have been met, it could resume production within two weeks of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas first, then Similac and other formulas. It would take at least six weeks after that to arrive on shelves.
The recall came as supply chain issues were already causing problems. The recall was initiated when four consumers said the formulas gave their babies bacterial infections, and then escalated after two infants died consuming formula.
The baby formula shortage is a temporary situation that will likely not be an issue anymore in the next few months, one North Texas expert said. Here are some tips to combat the shortage from Hope Supply Co., a nonprofit that provides essentials to North Texas children:
Reach out to your local WIC office: Texas WIC is working closely with WIC grocers to help make sure there are options for WIC families to purchase, a spokesperson said. They’ve temporarily added alternative options, available through the end of May, so families can find a formula at the store to meet their baby’s needs without updating their WIC card. If WIC clients cannot find the brands or sizes of formula currently written on their card, they can contact their local WIC office to update their card to a different can size or type of formula.
Reach out to your local nonprofits: While Hope itself doesn’t usually supply formula directly to parents, you can reach out to other nonprofits in your area. If they don’t have it, they might be able to reach out to another source like Hope to get it for you.
Try breastfeeding if you’re able to: Hope strongly suggests attempting to breastfeed if a parent is capable of doing so.
Don’t dilute formula: Don’t water down baby formula or underfeed your baby, as they won’t be able to get the nutrients they need, which can cause health problems. Also, don’t make homemade formula or give your baby cow’s milk, goat’s milk or other milk alternatives. Instead, breastfeed temporarily or try out an alternative formula.