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Abbott's baby formula plant is reopening in a step that could soon ease the shortage

The Abbott manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Mich., is reopening, allowing supplies of baby formula to head to consumers starting later this month, the company said Saturday.
The Abbott manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, on May 13, 2022. - Abbott representatives announced on Wednesday that the Sturgis plant could reopen within the next two weeks, subject to FDA approval. The company initiated a voluntary recall after two infants became sick and two died with traces of Cronobacter sakazakii, a common environmental bacteria, found in their systems after consuming formula produced in the plant. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Updated June 4, 2022 at 2:28 PM ET

Abbott says it's restarting the production of infant formula at its Sturgis, Mich., plant in a step that could ease a nationwide formula shortage in the coming weeks.

The facility was forced to close in February after a bacterial contamination was found in the company's formula products. Several babies were sickened and two died after consuming formula made at the plant.

The closure intensified ongoing supply shortages of baby formula in the U.S. To help alleviate the scarcity, the Biden administration has been importing formula from abroad in recent weeks.

Abbott's specialty formula EleCare will be available to consumers beginning on or about June 20, the company says. EleCare is formulated for infants with allergies to cow milk.

Abbott, one of the largest of the few formula makers in the U.S., was cleared to restart production the Michigan facility after meeting initial FDA requirements.

"We understand the urgent need for formula and our top priority is getting high-quality, safe formula into the hands of families across America," Abbott said in a statement on Saturday.

"We will ramp production as quickly as we can while meeting all requirements," the company added. "We're committed to safety and quality and will do everything we can to re-earn the trust parents, caregivers and health care providers have placed in us for 130 years."

The Food and Drug Administration has been working "around-the-clock" to alleviate the supply shortages, an agency spokesperson said in a statement to NPR. The FDA expects the resumption of production at the Michigan plant "will mean more and more infant formula is either on the way to or already on store shelves moving forward," the spokesperson added.

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