(WWJ) – The nationwide baby formula shortage may soon begin to ease, as Abbott Laboratories says it plans to restart production at its Southwest Michigan plant on June 4.
The company plans to reopen the facility in Sturgis – the country’s largest supplier of baby formula – after closing back in February due to bacterial contamination.
At least four infant deaths were tied to the baby formula.
In the months since the closure of the plant, parents across the country have been scrambling to find baby formula on store shelves anywhere they can.
The nationwide shortage prompted the U.S. to bring in a delivery of more than 78,000 lbs. of baby formula from Switzerland over the weekend to try and help ease the shortage.
Abbott officials say the plant will be under government supervision as production resumes, with a target date of the initial product release on June 20.
Officials said the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Tuesday amended the recent consent decree allowing Abbott to release limited quantities of its EleCare specialty amino acid-based formulas that were previously on hold following the Feb. 17 recall.
The consent decree was amended, at the request of Abbott and the FDA to help get EleCare to children in urgent medical need.
All products have been tested and meet all product release requirements, according to Abbott.
Similac and Alimentum powder formulas that were voluntarily recalled in February will not be included in the initial product release. Abbott officials did not say when consumers can expect to see those products back on the shelves.
EleCare formulas are hypoallergenic and are used by infants and children who have severe food allergies or gastrointestinal (GI) disorders that require amino acid-based formulas.
While Abbott has limited inventory of these products, there should be enough to fulfill current patient needs until new product is available in the coming months, officials said.