Baby milk shortage: Abbott CEO apologizes

The Abbott factory in Sturgis, Michigan, on May 13, 2022 (AFP/Archives/JEFF KOWALSKY)

The CEO of baby formula maker Abbott on Saturday apologized to American families affected by the shortage of this vital infant product, which has been made worse by the closure of a company factory in the United States.

“We are sorry for all the families we have abandoned since our voluntary recall exacerbated the shortage of infant formula in our country,” group boss Robert Ford told The Washington Post.

The United States has been experiencing a shortage of baby milk for several months, caused by supply and labor problems linked to Covid-19, then aggravated by the closure, in February, of an Abbott factory in the Michigan, after a product recall suspected of causing the deaths of two infants.

“It’s tragic and heartbreaking,” Ford said.

He also mentioned the establishment by the group, for the families of children hospitalized after consuming this milk, of “a fund of 5 million dollars”.

Regarding the shortage, Abbott claims to have “taken serious measures”, such as the conversion of production lines for adult products in the plant in Columbus (Ohio) “in order to give priority to the production” of baby milk.

The group also imports milk from its factory in Ireland. And after an agreement with the American justice, which must still be validated by a judge, the Michigan factory should reopen within two weeks.

Thus, “by the end of June, we will provide more infant formula to Americans than in January before the recall”, assures the CEO of Abbott.

“Finally, we are making significant investments so that this will never happen again,” he promised.

Joe Biden signed a law on Saturday that allows certain regulatory requirements to be circumvented “so that people can more easily access the baby formula they need,” he said in a tweet.

He announced Wednesday the establishment of an airlift and the use of a law dating from the Cold War to try to solve this shortage, which has become a political headache for his administration.

A White House official announced on Friday a first flight, carrying 132 pallets of Nestlé brand milk, this weekend between Germany and Indianapolis (Indiana).

© 2022 AFP

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